You read about the most “peaceful person”; the church elder with such good taste that ministers in Flint consulted him on their clothes; the 28-year-old who loved to sing, who was always “trying to over-sing the choir” in New Orleans; the Disney animator who was never on time in her life, who “loved to have a good time”; the woman “everyone knows” on her block in Bed-Stuy; the young therapist who brought a “real vivaciousness” to how she approached life and her many friends; the man who kept every card his wife had given him; the father who did one movie night with all the kids, then a second one with each individual child; the father legendary for “having the nicest cameras but taking the worst pictures”; the retired firefighter who walked Staten Island with his rosary beads, offering prayers to those who might need them; the retired cop who was one of the NYPD’s first black women detectives, who offered on the subject, “it was just a job”; the teacher who loved owls; the collector of thousands of dictionaries who once, when she only had enough money for her next trip, bought the 17th-century book anyway and hitchhiked; the cab driver who would pick up discarded books, read them, and give them to nursing homes and libraries; the father “who, in the positive sense of the word, was a hustler”; the stepfather whose ordered, attentive care wasn’t just for his family but for friends who started calling when he wasn’t checking in anymore; the hospital housekeeping employee who texted his wife before his death, “I can’t explain how much I truly love you.”

Almost always, singular details or lines like this stand out, eternally: “She was exceptional and I am very proud,” one mother said of her 17-year-old daughter, an elegant description in a horrible tragedy.