It was an appalling thing even before we knew who she was: the body of a young woman, dead from multiple gunshot wounds, was found before dawn Wednesday lying in the road in an incongruously lovely wooded neighborhood near campus.Awful as that was, the news grew immeasurably worse when police confirmed the rumors that were circulating by Thursday morning: The slain woman was 22-year-old Eve Carson, the president of the UNC student body. The loss of any parent's child, as Chancellor James Moeser told the thousands of faculty, staff and students who gathered in Polk Place in shock and grief Thursday, is a tragedy. Any such loss violates what we like to believe is the natural order; children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. Every young person's death, every life cut short too soon, leaves a terrible emptiness, a void where a future should have been. In this case, that void seems especially vast, because Eve Carson's future was almost limitless. She achieved more and touched more lives in 22 years than many of us manage in much longer lifetimes. What she might have accomplished with a full complement of years we can only imagine. No one who knew her -- and everyone on campus, it seems, knew her -- doubts that it would have been remarkable. This community has been shaken by violent deaths before and, sad to say, no doubt will suffer them again. It never gets easier to bear; the shock always hits anew. This one was especially cruel not only because it was so sudden and brutal, but because the light that was snuffed out was one that shone so brightly. As so many who knew her have said, and as is evident even from watching her on video, Carson was one of those people who seemed to glow from within, who radiated an energy and joy and optimism that warmed and illuminated those around her. Human beings have an innate need to find order amid chaos, to make sense of the universe. Usually we do pretty well at that. When something like this happens -- when a brilliant, vibrant young woman so beloved and so full of the potential to make the world a better place is suddenly snatched away -- it's a wrenching reminder that, for all our knowledge and wisdom, there are some things that are beyond our understanding. If there's order or sense in an act like that, we're not equipped to detect it. For some questions we can find no good answer. And so we do what the thousands did Thursday at Polk Place and the Pit on campus. We do what many of us did when we got home that day. We turn to each other. That too is an inborn human need triggered by terrible events like this -- the need for contact, for connection, for reassurance that we're not alone. So we share our pain and our sorrow and our confusion. And when we hug those we love, we hang on a little longer.