Alongside grief came gratitude Wednesday night, as dozens of relatives and friends of Alan Durrell Wilson gathered Uptown in his memory.
Holding candles and balloons, his loved ones memorialized the man who was fatally shot Saturday at a birthday party. His uncle, Bishop Steve Crawford, was the first to speak, standing in front of a row of pictures of his nephew.
Crawford said his nephew was full of life. He was bursting with a love that would bring others to reflect on their own lives, he said. In their sorrow, he urged those with him to remember First Thessalonians.
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Jesus for you,” Crawford said. “Young people, put down the guns and pick up the sword. Pick up the word of God.”
Wilson’s father, David Wilson, called for everyone to seek and embrace God’s love through this loss.
“We hope and pray that y’all keep praying for other people’s children out here, for this is a wicked world,” he said.
A friend of Wilson’s said he was studying Proverbs with him days before his death.
“That was the last study we did, not knowing that would be the last day I saw him, not knowing I should have told him I love him,” he said. “I just want everyone to know I love you because tomorrow ain’t promised to nobody.”
Wilson was a musician, he said, and listening to his music is what has granted a sense of peace amid the grief.
When Wilson’s brother, David Wilson Jr., first got the news about his younger brother being shot, he rushed to the hospital immediately. His mind was racing, he said, as he asked officers where his brother was. Doctors were still working on him, so David had to wait as his relatives arrived.
“The last thing you want to hear is ‘We tried to work on him, but he lost his life,’” he said. “I still have my brother’s back.”
Others shared close memories and moments. His aunt remembered caring for him as a baby as if he was her own child. Cousins shared their anger and frustration, but also memories of how good a father Wilson was to his son, Jeremiah, and daughter, Jakeerah.
One cousin said there wasn’t a day Wilson didn’t call or visit her, and even when he’d get on her nerves, he’d be back the next day and win her over. You couldn’t stay mad at him.
Loved ones release balloons in his memory, and held lit candles, blowing them out in unison. Jack Logan, Greenville anti-gun violence activist and founder of Put Down the Guns Now Young People, helped organize the vigil. He said he met Wilson years ago, and since then has known him as someone who always spoke about faith and righting what he saw as injustices in the law.
“This young man, I can stand tall and say, he was a great young man,” Logan said. “God gave y’all Alan for a while, but now he’s gone home to the real Father.”