It's been nearly eight months since Ollie Hubbard's 16-year-old daughter was gunned down on the front porch of her Hammond home.
She tries to keep her alive as much as she can, but it still feels like she is living in a nightmare.
Police and family members have said Lauren Calvillo was an innocent bystander during the June 29 shooting.
"There's no words to describe the pain," Hubbard said. "It's constant torture. It's so many feelings — sorrow, loneliness, guilt."
Calvillo's homicide is one example of how an unexpected death can leave a family grappling with grief and unsure of how to cope.
Hubbard finds herself drawn daily to her daughter's grave. She said she doesn't believe her daughter is there, but Hubbard goes to clean the area and talk to her.
"It's something that I have to do for myself," Hubbard said. "I just feel close to her."
TALKING THROUGH GRIEF
Hubbard said she has relied heavily on close friends and family members during the past couple of months, which include her niece, Lisa Hubbard, who drove her home from the hospital the night Lauren died.
Hubbard also is working to raise awareness about violence in Northwest Indiana. She plans on working with a Hammond teacher to deter students from joining gangs. She passes out bright pink bracelets that read, "Stop the Violence for the Love of Lauren."
Richard Frankel, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said it’s important for those dealing with grief to tell their story and explain how it makes them feel.
He said it’s therapeutic to talk about it rather than keeping it bottled up inside, which could lead to anger and depression. He recommends people seek a support group or an expert that deals with trauma.
Like Hubbard, Marvin Clinton said he hasn't sought out a professional to speak to, but he has formed relationships with other family members who unexpectedly lost a family member in a violent crime. Clinton is the boyfriend of Teaira Batey, one of six women found dead in 2014 inside vacant buildings in Gary.
Clinton said he still keeps in contact with workers from Manuel Memorial Funeral Home who organized Batey's services. Sometimes he will stop by for about 20 minutes to check in with them.
Though each experience will vary, Frankel said grief usually lasts for a year. A person should be concerned if after two months they can’t get out of bed.
But it's normal if a person becomes emotional after hearing a story that resonates with how their family member died.
He said research also has shown that writing things down can be therapeutic. Frankel recommends writing a letter to the person who died explaining untold feelings or reinforcing the things the person did tell their loved one. In cases where there is a perpetrator, Frankel said writing a letter to the suspect can help.
Grief can even create physical symptoms, dubbed an anniversary reaction, that can't be explained by science, Frankel said. For example, if the person died of a heart attack, one year later a family member might develop chest pain that can’t be explain by medicine.
Frankel said it also can be helpful for those dealing with grief to get involved in a group that helps other families, which then reinforces the idea that the person isn't alone in his or her experience.
Nora Ferrer created a nonprofit organization to bring awareness to violence plaguing Northwest Indiana after her brother, Alexander Martinez, was gunned down in 1998. Ferrer said she has sought guidance from her religion, and she has pushed police to keep the homicide case alive.
Still, she said the trauma of her brother's homicide has stayed with her 18 years after it happened.
“Because you really don’t heal,” Ferrer said. “You are still there. You are still on that night, no matter how many years have gone by.”
Niki Fitusis is one of two people who work as victim witness advocates for the Lake County prosecutor's office. When a criminal case is filed, she sends the victim in the case a letter giving an overview of what to expect while the case is pending.
Fitusis is tasked with helping the deputy prosecuting attorneys build their case, but a lot of her job also includes answering questions from victims. She also keeps them informed about upcoming court hearings, assists in getting them to court and helps them find community resources.
Lake County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Barbara McConnell said sometimes victims or the families of victims seek out the advocates because they just want to talk to someone.
Fitusis isn't sure if families ever find closure after a case is prosecuted, but they do appear to be relieved when the case is resolved.
Lauren Calvillo's case hasn't yet reached the point of prosecution. No one has been charged in her homicide, though U.S. Attorney David Capp has said his office is working with local authorities to solve the case.
Hubbard said she has made it her life's mission to find justice for her daughter.
"I'm not giving up, never," she said. "Whoever did it, knows they did it. How do they live with it?"
Calvillo was killed when shots rang out in the 5500 block of Beall Street, less than 24 hours after Robert Vilella was shot to death on the same block.
Hubbard finds herself questioning why she didn't push her daughter more to come inside earlier on the day she was killed. She said her daughter never got into trouble and it was still daylight.
When shots rang out, Hubbard said Lauren helped usher in five children into the home. She collapsed inside and later died.
Even if someone is prosecuted for her daughter's homicide, she doesn't think closure will ever come for her until she herself dies.
Ferrer and her family have been waiting for closure for more than 18 years. About 10 years after Martinez was killed, Javier Oropesa was charged with murder, but he has never been arrested. Ferrer said there were rumors Oropesa frequently traveled to Mexico and Northwest Indiana. He could be living in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
Her mother, Beatrice Martinez, for years couldn't swallow what happened to her son. Beatrice Martinez said she is waiting for the day she faces Oropesa in court and can ask why her son was killed.
Clinton said he, too, has questions about Batey's death.
"Teaira's situation, because it was so violent, it's something that is always in your head," Clinton said. "For me, I think about it a lot. Why it happened and what could we have done differently."
Darren Vann, of Gary, allegedly confessed to killing Batey and six other women. He faces charges in the strangling deaths of two women, Afrikka Hardy and Anith Jones, but he has not charged in the other deaths.
Clinton attends Vann's court hearings and updates some of the other women's family members. He knows the case could take years before it's resolved, but he plans to follow it until the end.
"I don't expect to get closure," Clinton said. "So I think my closure will more likely come when the system works itself through and there's justice for all seven women."