‘She was my family; I miss her so much’

By Teresa Sewell

Four of Jennifer Britton’s closest friends start laughing. They take turns remembering the silly things she used to do.

Antoinette Bordelon, sophomore in LAS, imitates her walk while Christopher Vaughn, senior in Communications, mimics a dance Britton used to do that made everyone laugh.

However, there were moments in between the laughter where each friend grew silent, realizing there was something missing from the usual hanging out and evening of fun – Britton.

Students joined hands outside Foellinger Auditorium at Britton’s memorial service on Oct. 26. Britton, who was a senior in LAS,died Oct. 23 when her car struck a deer on Interstate 57.

Almost two weeks later, students are still saddened by her death but have begun to cope by sharing with others the beautiful, giving and joyful person she was.

Kenyatta Beverly, senior in LAS, saved a voicemail Britton left her when Beverly was stressed out about an exam.

“Hey Kenyatta, it’s Jennifer … I was just calling to see how the test went … I prayed for you, and I’m sure you did very well …” Britton said on the voicemail, as the group listens and remains silent.

“She could make you feel good about anything,” Vaughn said.

Britton somehow convinced him to participate in the physique show freshman year when he was only about 130 pounds, Vaughn said while laughing. Her encouragement gave him the confidence to compete, he said.

She was a family-oriented person who was dedicated to making sure her family was okay after her father’s death in 2002, said Jafar Malik, who has known Britton since her high school days at Kenwood Academy, in Chicago.

Britton being in heaven with her father now really gives him comfort and peace because his death really saddened her, Malik said.

Malik said she was always there for him, especially when there was no one else to help him deal with issues he was going through.

“She was my family,” Malik said. “I miss her so much.”

Britton’s brother, Michael, described his sister as a “very strong-willed, kind and loving person.”

She was “daddy’s little girl,” who aspired to be a lawyer just like him, Michael said.

She was very focused in school, but would make time for any person that needed her help, he said.

“She would give you her last dollar if you needed it,” Michael said.

Jennifer called me from a boutique one time and told me she found a shirt that would match a pair of my shoes, said Kimberly Matthews, junior in LAS.

I tried to give her the money for it after she gave me the shirt, but she refused, Matthews said.

“She literally ran from me, and I was just standing there with the money in my hand,” Matthews said smiling. “That was just the type of person she was.”

Even though Michael and his mother are deeply saddened by Jennifer’s death, he said the amazing support of her friends has lifted both of their spirits.

They created a memorial Web site and gave his mother a huge poster board that was signed by over a hundred people. Many of Britton’s friends came to Chicago for the funeral, Michael said.

“She touched a lot of people,” he said. “People wouldn’t have done so much stuff for her if she weren’t loved so much.”

He also has much sympathy for Chad Barnes, senior in LAS, and Lindsey Travis, senior in LAS, who were also in the accident, Michael said.

“I’m her brother, and I know I hurt a million times more than everyone else, but for Chad and Lindsey to be right there (in the car with her) and not be able to do something, that’s a real burden on their shoulders,” Michael said.

Barnes and Travis were treated at Carle Foundation Hospital and were released at separate times.

Britton had a beautiful soul, but a gorgeous physical appearance too. She had a unique style and looked great in the cargo pants and jeans. She loved to wear and never needed make-up, said her group of friends.

“I would put on my Mac lipstick and she would pull out her chap stick,” Beverly said laughing.

The last time the group saw Britton was at the Kanye West concert two weeks ago, when her friends said Britton swore West looked at her.

“Maybe Kanye did look at Jennifer, because she definitely stood out,” Bordelon said, describing the crazy dances she did in her section.

“He looked in our direction and just laughed,” Bordelon said.

Aside from being an excellent athlete and a huge White Sox fan, Britton had an obsession with eating turkey and going to Pita Pit, where she once had a $100 charge on her account, her friends said.

Bordelon said her friends were sad at first because they realized that they wouldn’t have any more new stories about her.

But they eventually realized that they shouldn’t be sad because they have so many memories that can last forever, Bordelon said.

“She was just such a beautiful person that you didn’t need a zillion years because you can get a zillion memories in just three or four,” Bordelon said.