Friends of two slain Tampa teenagers packed a church Wednesday with their parents and teachers and paid tribute to Calyx and Beau Schenecker in every way they could.
They played instruments and sang Amazing Grace, wore ribbons and shared stories.
They uttered words of comfort for the children's father seated in the front row, Army Col. Parker Schenecker.
And in return, the man left alone by the tragedy faced the crowd and shared his gratitude.
"I can't thank you enough," he said, "for today's moving, loving memorial for my exceptional children and for your tributes through the past few days.
"Whether you wore some blue or Harry Potter glasses, lit a candle, laid a flower or signed a soccer jersey, you honored my children. ...
"The family and I are humbled by your support, grace and overwhelming love for Calyx and Beau. They love you, too. Please don't forget how they lived."
There was no talk of how the two died, or the mother accused of ending their lives.
Julie Powers Schenecker, 50, remains in Falkenburg Road Jail, charged with first-degree murder.
Beau, 13, was shot during a car ride Thursday after school, Tampa police said. His sister Calyx, 16, was shot while she did homework on a computer.
During the celebration of life at the First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace, friends and teachers shared some of the last moments they remembered.
Beau's Liberty Middle School teacher, Daisy Questell, saw him for the last time last Thursday afternoon.
"Do you know that I made the soccer team?" she remembers he asked her. She congratulated him. And he told her, "Goodbye, I'll see you tomorrow."
During English class at King High School that day, Calyx wrote an essay: "In life, the journey proves to be more meaningful than the end, and the way you live exposes your own true personality."
The way Calyx lived: Climbing a rock wall without a harness. Crying with hurt legs during the home stretch of a race, but crossing the finish line because her team needed her. Excelling at the highest-level classes at school. Painting. Sculpting. Making her teachers want to give creative assignments just to see what she'd do.
The way Beau lived: Making funny faces. Giving his soccer teammates game-changing pep talks. Befriending kids who had fewer friends. Running around with his jersey over his face every time his team scored.
When she grew up, Calyx was going to live in New York City but spend summers in Thailand among the elephants.
When a soldier came to Beau's school, his teacher Allison Newton remembered, Beau turned to his friends and said: "I want to be in the military. I want to be just like my father."
At several points, Parker Schenecker stood with open arms to hug the speakers — mostly high school students and middle schoolers who called his kids their best friends.
With each little flash of life that unfolded in the stories and photos, the hundreds in the crowd cried and laughed.
They would leave the sanctuary and form a long line to write messages to the departed siblings with multicolored markers. They'd strategize about future ways to honor them. They'd embrace.
But first, at the end of the night, they listened to the church's pastor J.P. Clouse pray about all those things no one had said: "There's a lot of people out here that have real feelings of hurt, questions of why. It's hard," he said. "And that's okay."
And they bowed their heads.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3354.