Samantha looked at Jori's face. She thought about his mother, who, like any mother, no doubt gazed upon her child's features every day and memorized every smile, every frown, every emotion. Samantha made sure that his eyelashes lifted off his cheeks.
As she started to suture the head to the body, the other embalmers in the room joined in, positioning Jori as she worked. All these hands on Jori, Glenn Bergeron thought, carefully holding him as he deserved.
Later he would think about the violence that brought Jori to them. If God is good and all his creation is good, including Wright, then where does this evil lie?
"I was left wondering if the person was evil or whether the act was evil," he said. "And if the person was mentally ill, was this illness evil? Does evil lie in the person, the deed or the illness?"
He had no answer.
Afterward, they washed Jori, combed his hair and placed him on a dressing table. They wrapped him in a white cotton sheet, not the disposable sheets they usually used; they wanted to give him something softer.
Glenn lay a hand on Jori's chest and said good night.
"You've done a very good thing today," he said to Samantha, and as they left the funeral home, he gave her a kiss.
That night at home, he read the evening prayer from the Office of the Dead for Jori. "The Lord will keep you from all evil," he said aloud. "He will guard your soul." It's something he does each month for those he's served, but Jori, he believed, deserved his own prayer.
The embalmers continued their work for three more days, applying makeup and wax and allowing the chemicals to draw the moisture out of the tissues and preserve the body.
When they were finished, Jori was moved into the mortuary's chapel. He lay in a casket of Carolina poplar, dressed in a plaid shirt bought last Christmas, with Tommy Hilfiger jeans he was just starting to grow into.
Kees said a prayer before meeting with Jori's mother. There are times when he wonders whether he will meet in heaven the people he's worked on. He wonders what they will say.
He remembers accompanying Lirette into the chapel. He gave her a moment before asking whether Jori looked all right and whether she wished to keep the casket open for viewing. She nodded. Lirette wanted her family, relatives and friends to see her child again. She thought he looked older and more handsome. She touched his hands and kissed his forehead.
Almost 500 people came by that day, and when the time came to close the casket, she mentioned that her son was afraid of the dark. Kees brought a flashlight and placed it in Jori's hands. After the family left the funeral home, Kees relaxed. During the Mass tomorrow, the casket would stay closed.
On the day of the visitation, Bergeron had gone home early. His job done, he wanted to give the family their privacy. He, Kees and the others had made it possible for the Lirettes to see Jori one last time and find their words of farewell. By attending to the dead, Bergeron said, they had once again served the living.
PHOTOS: Embalmers tend to a child brutally killed