Sometimes, the best words are no words, but one emoji. Ariana Grande’s tribute to Manchester on the second anniversary of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing is a simple and poignant message: a black screen with a single bee in the middle. On Wednesday, the pop singer shared a bee emoji on Instagram Stories to honor the city where there was an attack her concert two years ago. She did not include a caption, but the meaning behind the emoji she chose is crystal clear, and the result is incredibly heart-rending.
On May 22, 2017, a bombing at Grande's Manchester Arena show left 22 attendees dead and over 100 wounded. One year later, Grande got a rendering of a bee tattooed behind her ear as a tribute to the victims and survivors. The worker bee has been a symbol of Manchester since the Industrial Revolution, and Grande is one of the thousands of people who got inked with a bee after the attack. She also included a worker bee in the final scene of the music video for "No Tears Left to Cry."
Grande referenced the Manchester worker bee again on Wednesday with a moving IG Story, which you can see below.
Grande has opened up about the bombing and her post-traumatic stress in the past. In the fourth episode of her web series The Dangerous Woman Diaries, Grande shared a letter to her fans about the bombing. “I’m writing to you this Feb. 22, 2018,” the note began. “It’s been 8 months since the attack at our show at the Manchester Arena. It’s impossible to know where to start or to know what to say about this part. May 22, 2017, will leave me speechless and filled with questions for the rest of my life. She called music “an escape,” “something that brings people together,” “the last thing that would ever harm someone,” and “safe.” She went on,
“When something so opposite and so poisonous takes place in your world that is supposed to be everything but that … it is shocking and heartbreaking in a way that seems impossible to fully recover from."
“The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us of for the rest of our lives. Their love, strength and unity showed me, my team, my dancers, band and entire crew not to be defeated. To continue during the scariest and saddest of times. To not let hate win. But instead, love as loudly as possible and to appreciate every moment. The people of Manchester were able to change an event that portrayed the worst of humanity into one of that portrayed the most beautiful of humanity. ‘Like a handprint on my heart’… I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life.”
She will carry this in her heart, and a worker bee by her ear.