“God has a way of carrying you sometimes. There’s no explanation how things have transpired.”
Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton were thrust into the national spotlight January 29th 2013, the day their daughter, Hadiya, was shot and killed while standing with friends in a south side park. They had just finished their finals at King High School.
“You can’t get away from what happened, Cleopatra said, “It’s a feeling that you pray never to experience. It’s interesting that we’re going through this. I was at work when Newtown happened and I was just devastated. I said I couldn’t imagine sending my child to school and them never coming home and then not a month later… It happens to me.”
Hadiya’s death drew the attention of President Obama and the first lady, as the honors student, who’d just performed at the president’s inauguration and her parents were pulled into the national discussion on gun control.
A world away from the lives they ever pictured.
“You’re thinking we’ll be old and grey, we’ll have some grandkids ya know? There’s so much longevity when you look into the eyes of your child.”
“But… you see success. You see college I remember telling her I can’t wait to take you to college so I can embarrass you. Just go down there and stay for a week with you. Almost like back to school with Rodney Dangerfield. But those are things we can’t experience with her. The way I cope? I just try to stay as busy as I possibly can,” Nathaniel said.
That includes the development of Hadiya’s foundation. The Pendleton’s hope to help their community– by turning personal tragedy into community triumph.
“Something has to be done about this and we have to figure out how to talk about the issues and connect ourselves so that pressure is still out there to bring about change.”