By Kim Minugh
In Hebrew, Kaia Parker's name means "gift of life."
But early Saturday morning, that gift was tragically taken away from Parker.
Nearly 300 people gathered at a memorial service Thursday to remember and celebrate the 19-year-old freshman.
Parker, who was set to begin at UNC on Tuesday, was with her boyfriend, William Fletcher Whicker Jr., at the time of the one-car accident. Whicker, 22, was charged with driving while impaired on Turkey Farm Road in Chapel Hill. He will likely face charges of felony death by vehicle after the district attorney's office reviews the case. Despite angry feelings surrounding Kaia's death, family and friends gravitated to the tranquil Lockridge Community Center in an effort to ease their pain.
The music of Elton John and the words of Bernie Taupin's "Love Song" drifted in the air as the audience formed a circle representing life.
"You say it's very hard, to leave behind the life we knew * "
Family and friends shared their favorite memories of Parker, who loved to dance, shop and take long walks with her mother and older brother, Steve Glenn.
Glenn surveyed the large crowd of all ages. "She is still inspiring a lot of love," he told the audience of mourners. "We haven't had agathering like this in years."
He reminisced about his close bond with his little sister. "She was my sister, a best friend, a playmate, a co-conspirator, a spirit."
Parker, who friends described as tall, graceful and beautiful, began to dance at age 9.
And although dancing was her passion, she had plans of majoring in business upon arrival at UNC.
Parker's family asked that donations be made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving in lieu of flowers.
A soft drum beat in the background reminded family and friends of Parker's energy and love of motion.
"She told my mom she wanted a celebration of life," Glenn said. "And this is what this is."
And as a slow procession made its way to Parker's grave, the words of the song echoed in their hearts.
"Love is the opening door. Love is what we came here for.
"No one could offer you more."