WARRENSBURG Holding hands, a group of about a dozen people encircled a Japanese Lilac tree planted two years ago to memorialize Courtney Mae Swinton, a local teenager who took her own life in 2010.
The gathering occurred recently on the grounds of Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension off Schroon River Road.
One by one, the departed girl’s friends spoke of her legacy.
“I thought I didn’t have a reason to live anymore, but after seeing what Courtney’s death did to her friends and family, I know I have a reason to live — to be here and help others,” said a teen through her tears.
Sarah DeSantis, Courtney’s cousin, added her thoughts.
“Sometimes life sucks, like when bad things happen to good people,” she said. “But I think everyone has the power to change and make a difference, and accomplish something they’d like to see in this world.”
Kirstyn Pratt of Queensbury, a friend of Courtney’s since first grade, talked about the Warrensburg girl’s caring character, and how her death impacted her own life, which was once filled with anxiety.
“I used to let things get to me — stressing out and getting overwhelmed — but I don’t let things get to me now,” she said. “Courtney’s passing made me focus on things that really matter in life.”
Margo Macero, a singer-songwriter in her twenties who’s been achieving regional fame, said Courtney’s death was hard to endure. When alive, Courtney had been an inspiration, she said.
“She always encouraged me to pursue my music — she’d say, ‘get out there and do your thing,’” Macero recalled, noting she’s just recently pulled out of her “songwriter’s block” prompted by the suicide. The two had known each other since age 12 or so.
“Memories of Courtney really give me ambition,” she added, noting she wrote the song “Dream on Boulevard” and “Colors in the Sky” in Courtney’s memory.