When Homegirls Pass Away

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By Veronica Hilbring (@Veronicolumn)

I’ve had many best friends in my life. But there’s nothing really like your first best friend. Over the weekend, I went to the funeral of my very first best friend. We went back like Chico sticks and Boston Baked Beans. When I was first able to make phone calls, hers was one of the first numbers I knew by heart. Her parents still have that same number to this day.

In my 27 years, this was the 2nd time that I’ve ever attended a funeral of a friend I was close to. The first being someone I dated but both were victims of Chicagoland violence.

As I try to think of the happy moments we had, I can’t help but think of the tragic way that she died. She was pushed out of her own truck on the expressway by a male acquaintance. I don’t know the extent of the relationship between them but I learned after her tragic death that this man had 7 arrests and 2 convictions for domestic battery. He is currently in jail awaiting trial. What I do know is that my friend died senselessly, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.

I learned the news of her death from a place where many of us hear the latest news: social media. Facebook always has a way of subtly ruining your life in more ways than one. There’s nothing like finding out the death of your friend via Facebook. But since I no longer watch the local news, I may never have heard about it. I stopped watching the local news last year. The constant repetitive, stories of teenagers shot and killed on the south and west sides of the city had long become too much for me to endure. I still read the news but going through the turmoil of seeing another mother mourn her innocent child struck down by a stray bullet has forever scared me away from the local news.

We’ve always known that as we get older, we should expect certain occurrences like weddings, babies and even death. But the death of a peer isn’t something that many of us under 30 even consider. It’s something that we rarely fathom. But when it happens, it’s all you can think about. You think about all the good times you’ve shared and in my case, you wonder why you hadn’t spoken to them in so long. We lost contact during that crazy time between high school and college. I was going away to school and she was not. I was preparing to move to a small town hundreds of miles away from Chicago and she very much wrapped up in her boyfriend at the time. People lose touch. It happens.

But the bond was always there. I have so many memories of us doing everything from talking hours on the phone, going to the movies and of course, partying. We used to kick it so hard!

Although I hadn’t seen her in forever, there was no way I could live without ever seeing her again. But sadly, that’s something I will have to deal with. Due to the cause of her death, her body was too mutilated to have a proper burial.

I know so many women who live by the “If this person doesn’t call me, I’m not calling them” philosophy. Let it go. It’s not worth it.

Her passing inspired one of my former close friends to reach out to me. After learning of her passing, she called me to check on my well being as well as grieve as she also knew my dear friend.

It sounds cliché but hug your girls. Tell them how much you miss them. Show them how much you appreciate them. Uplift and support them. Don’t be afraid or too stubborn to reach out to them.

You never know if you’ll get that chance again.

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