"They've lost their childhood."
Newtown's Pastor Rocky Veach had been a preacher in Littleton, Colorado, when the Columbine shooting occurred. He said the biggest lesson he learned from the 1999 massacre was "that a lot of things are going to pan out over the next months here, even years, and you will see God's hand was in this, but you can't see it now."
Maybe it's too soon, too difficult to imagine another reality further in the future. Right now, residents can only think of the town they once knew and how everything changed that Friday.
For most, the pain is just too fresh, the attack too senseless to comprehend.
In the wake of the massacre, Americans have begun looking at gun control and mental health issues. It's also forced our society to take a deep introspective look: Have we become too polarized? What can we learn from those children?
Is there meaning to be drawn from Grace's message on that window?
Journey into hell
Gene Rosen had blocked out the sounds of whatever he heard coming from the school. How obnoxious, he thought, that somebody would shoot off fireworks so early in the day.
"I wanted to think that," he said, "because I know the school is over there."
He fed his two cats in a loft above his garage and walked back toward his home. He spotted something odd toward the end of his driveway.
There were six children -- four girls and two boys -- sitting on his lawn. A woman sat in the middle with them. A tall, skinny man stood over them and spoke in a loud voice: "IT'S GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT! IT'S GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT!"
Rosen thought they were practicing a school skit. When he got closer, he could see the children were out of breath and crying.
"There's been an incident at the school," said the woman, a Sandy Hook bus driver.
Rosen's not sure how the bus driver ended up with the children on his lawn. Nor does he know the identity of the man, who later walked off.
But Rosen knows this: It was the start of a "journey into hell."
He once had worked as a psychologist with the chronically mentally ill at a state psychiatric hospital. But nothing had prepared him for what would transpire next. Instead, at 69, his grandfatherly instincts kicked in.
He invited the children into his home. He ran upstairs and grabbed as many stuffed animals as possible. They calmed the children briefly.
One of the girls stared out his living room window. "I want my mommy," she said. "I want my mommy."
The two boys sat on the floor, crying uncontrollably and shouting, "We can't go back to school! We can't go back to school! We don't have a teacher!"
Then they said the name of their 27-year-old teacher, Victoria Soto.