"I got the call while I was in a meeting," recalls Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton. "Normally, I would have let it go, but something said take the call. It was one of Hadiya's friends and she was screaming from her gut, 'Hadiya's been shot! Hadiya's been shot!' I'm hearing her but I'm screaming too, 'Where's my baby? I don't understand what you are saying!'"
With the murder of their 15-year-old daughter, Hadiya, still fresh in their memories, the Pendletons recall the moment they learned of their child's death in a heart-rending conversation with ESSENCE magazine.
In the emotional interview, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton share their struggle to move forward after losing their firstborn child to gun violence in Chicago's South Side neighborhood.
"I'm not grieving because she or I did anything wrong," explains Cleopatra, "I'm grieving because I miss who she was going to become."
The hurting family refuses to let their daughter's death be in vain and shared their new mission to help fight against illegal firearms.
"I know there is a God and I know he wouldn't do this for no reason," Cleopatra says. "We lost our child and don't want anyone else to have to ever go through this."
For the full interview with the Pendletons, in which they talk of their experience losing a child to gun violence and how they are working to put an end to illegal guns, pick up the May 2013 issue of ESSENCE.
How can you support the President's initiatives to curb gun violence now? Join our ESSENCE Guns Down movement: Download and sign this letter to President Obama, take a photo of yourself with it, and post it to Twitter and other social media with the hashtag #ESSENCEGunsDown.
Photos: David W. Johnson