Words such as “special,” “kind,” “energetic” and “generous” filled the air.
A few hours earlier at the Athens First United Methodist Church, just a few blocks down, more than 400 people filled the seats at a funeral for the 22-year-old UNC senior and student body president.
On one side sat her UNC community, on the other, her family and friends from Athens.
“We come together in grief acknowledging our loss,” said Senior Minister Bill Britt, who led the service, as members of the audience bowed their heads in prayer.
The church was filled to the brim with people, forcing some to sit in the aisles of the balcony. Everyone stood together to sing hymns and recite some of the prayers that Britt led.
The audience was blanketed with a sadness that extended beyond the tragedy of a young, ambitious life taken too soon – it was the way Carson died that stirred an extra twinge of pain in so many.
Carson was shot to death early March 5. Since then, two Durham residents, Lawrence Alvin Lovette, 17, and Demario James Atwater, 21, have been arrested and charged with her murder. Police are calling the murder a random act of violence.
“We simply can’t fathom this kind of violent act that is so foreign to our culture, our community,” Chancellor James Moeser said in an address at the service.
Because so much of the reaction to Carson’s death has been confusion and anger, a lot of the service revolved around ways of dealing with, though not answering, those questions.
But throughout the service, and even more so at the Carson house later, most people focused on the memories.
“We’re all better in some way because we knew Eve Carson,” Carson’s high school principal, Maxine Easom, told the church audience, mentioning several stories shared at a vigil in Athens on March 7 that about 750 people attended.
Easom recounted her own memories, specifically a conversation with Carson about the decision to attend UNC instead of Princeton or Yale universities. All three offered her scholarships.
“She said, ‘But, Dr. Easom, I want to go to a public institution,’” Easom said, adding that Carson had an appreciation for public education throughout her life.
In an especially personal moment, Britt read words that Bob Carson wrote about his daughter.
“Believe me, something was just a touch different about Eve from birth,” Britt read.
“The senseless murder of my sweet, sweet Eve is sadness defined, unfathomable and bottomless,” he goes on to say, “but so appreciatively interrupted by each friend or family member who shares our grief.”
And later in the afternoon when friends and family circulated the Carson house, the memories continued, some just talking with one another and others writing thoughts or prayers for Carson on white prayer flags.
The house overflowed with pictures. Carson holding an umbrella, on the Smith Center Court and in a foreign country hugging children.
Walking through the rooms, several stopped to smile to themselves about a personal memory that came to mind or even just let out a gentle laugh about Carson’s free-spirited nature and abundance of energy.
Outside, the prayer flags waved their messages to Carson in the breeze between the pillars of the porch.
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ATTEND THE MEMORIAL
Time: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday
Location: Smith Center