he's still full of life. She's alive right now.”
King tried to comfort the several hundred family and friends in attendance, reminding them that Taylor now stands before God with "no more tears; no more hurt.”
Below King's pulpit sat the object of everyone's grief – a pristine, white casket crowned with a bouquet of white and pink carnations. The first sight of the casket caused a few relatives to sob aloud, and one to collapse into the hands of a loved one.
Later, the casket would be opened. Mourners filed by in stunned silence, some lingering for several moments.
"How do you prepare for this?” King asked. "I just pray.”
King paused momentarily. He admitted he had not prepared words, but only those "from the heart.”
"I'm told Taylor wanted to be a forensic scientist,” King continued. "Let her be one. Let her be one. ... She used to see turtles on a road. She'd stop and move them off to the side so they wouldn't get hurt. Today, if you see a turtle on a road, stop and move it to the side. Taylor would have.
"Taylor used to love to jump on a trampoline. Go jump on a trampoline today for Taylor. Let her live through you. Celebrate her life.”
Slideshows of both Taylor and Skyla prompted a flood of tears. Skyla could be seen in a haunting tapestry of photographs, from images of a baby bathing in the kitchen sink to a beautiful girl donning her green and white cheerleading outfit.
Several pictures also showed Taylor with her cheerleading squad. In one picture, she flashes an infectious smile with a slight, playful tilt of the head.
Moments later, Sarah McLachlan's "Arms of an Angel” filled the church. Eyes again began to water. On this day, the nostalgic and sentimental song seemed to carry a haunting message when McGaughlin sings of "vultures and thieves at your back.”
"It's time for a community to draw closer together,” King pleaded. "How are we to protect our children if we don't draw close together? ... Don't let this end as a tragedy.
"Something good will come out of all this. We have to believe that.”