designer money clip wallet Baylee Almon lives on through others
Every April 19, Aren Almon Kok, Baylee’s mother, is faced with not just marking down another year since the worst day in her life, but also watching as time erodes the memories of the 366 days she was able to spend with her daughter.
“The milestones are the worst,” Kok said Tuesday near a chair dedicated to Baylee outside the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial site.
“I know that when there’s an anniversary, like the fifth anniversary of the bombing or the 10th or whatever, that people are going to come calling. But what’s hard is Baylee’s milestones when she would have been a teenager, or been able to drive.”
Perhaps cruelest of all, Baylee, who would have turned 21 this year, is memorialized in the most tragic and iconic picture from the bombing. The Pulitzer Prize winning photo, captured by Charles H. Porter IV, shows Baylee’s body covered in soot, debris and blood as she’s cradled in the arms of Oklahoma City firefighter Chris Fields.
Baylee was one of 15 children killed in the building’s daycare center during the bombing, which killed 168 people.
Since that’s the most symbolic picture from the bombing, Baylee’s family knows there’s no avoiding it when each anniversary comes.
“It’s OK,” Kok said, resting one hand on Baylee’s memorial. “We know it’s coming, so we get ready for it.”
For Fields, who is nearing 30 years as an Oklahoma City firefighter, the picture symbolizes the best and worst aspects of the bombing.
“I’ve heard people say that it kind of wraps everything up into one picture, and I guess that makes sense,” he said. “You know,
you look at it and you can see everything, the rescue effort, the innocence that was lost. It’s all wrapped up in one image.
“I know I’ll never be able to forget her.”
‘I just remember seeing that picture’Kayla Dearman was 6 years old when she began to understand what happened April 19, 1995.
Like Baylee, she was born in 1994, and, like Baylee, her birthday April 20 surrounds the bombing.
“I’ve never been able to have a birthday without thinking about the bombing,” said Dearman, who lives in Tulsa. “It’s just how it is. I’ve never had a birthday that I remember where at least one person didn’t mention the bombing.”
And she felt a particular connection to the photo of Baylee.
“I just remember seeing that picture of the firefighter holding her,” she said. “Ever since then it has been stuck in my mind. I guess I see that picture every year, probably, so I feel like it’s kind of always been a part of who I am.”
Two years ago, Dearman was in Oklahoma City at the memorial when a thought struck her. She had on previous trips left little notes to the Almon family in the memorial book at the museum, hoping Baylee’s family would see them and know that someone else was thinking of them.
Three months’ pregnant at the time, Dearman realized that if she couldn’t reach Baylee’s family directly, she could at least honor the little girl’s memory in her own way.
“I realized that I should just name my daughter after Baylee,” Dearman said. “It seemed so obvious that I was surprised I hadn’t thought of it earlier. I thought about it for a couple more months, just to be sure, and then finally decided that it would be her name.”
Bailey Dearman Kayla Dearman wanted her name to honor Baylee “but be a little different” was born Jan. 1, 2014.
‘Baylee has always seemed so close to me’A little less than five months after her daughter was born, another wish of Dearman’s was granted, though not in the way she first envisioned.
On May 30, 2014,
Dearman wrote a little note to the Almon family on a Facebook page dedicated to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
“Baylee has always seemed so close to me. She turned 1 the day before. I have always felt a strong connection with her.