By Rob Felt
Someone had placed a bright red heart with the embroidered words "Friends Forever" against the white satin of Courtney Wright's open casket. As hundreds of friends and family who came Saturday to pay their respects to the deceased 16-year-old walked silently past, no one could help but notice it resting there next to Wright.
Those hundreds waited in line quietly at Cavalry Baptist Church in East Point with only a gentle piano melody to distract them, but when everyone had paid their respects, the pall bearers closed Wright's casket to the sound of cries from the family's side of the sanctuary.
Although the controversy surrounding Wright's death remains to be settled, those in attendance at the funeral tried to focus on remembering his life.
"Try not to let too much bitterness and malice come into your heart," visiting Rev. Cal Merrell instructed. "The judicial system will take care of the criminals and God will take care of the sinners," he said.
Kathryn Smith has been charged with murder in connection with the June 16th shooting death of Courtney Wright. The two allegedly had an argument that led to the shooting when Smith caught Wright driving her car and confronted him about it.
Wright's cousin Reganald Doyl addressed the situation at the funeral during time for family remarks. "This madness has to stop. This vigilante justice just don't work no more," he said.
Pastor Terrance Curtis of Cavalry Baptist Church delivered the eulogy and addressed the many high school friends of Courtney Wright who were in attendance. "You gotta understand young people n this is not a video game. You don't get to hit reset and the main character comes back to life. This is serious," Curtis said.
His voice rising and lowering between deafening raspy shouts and smooth controlled whispers, Curtis offered consoling words for the Wright family and advice for anyone listening. "Believe me when I tell you that this is not all there is. There is, in fact, an afterlife. There is a God to face. If you want forgiveness from God, you have to forgive others," he said.
After the service, Courtney Wright's friends gathered together outside the church. It looked like a typical scene from the student parking lot of a high school when the afternoon bell had stopped ringing, except none of the students were running around and joking with each other.
15-year-old Jalisa Lacas stood in that parking lot talking with her friends. She wore an airbrushed t-shirt reading "RIP Courtney Wright" that she had custom made earlier that day. Lacas is an East Point Bulldogs cheerleader who had watched Wright play football and become friends with him, cheering him on during games.
When asked what she thought about the service, she paused and responded slowly. "It was sad, but everybody's gotta move on."