The school buses usually rolled into the grounds of the Hawley School around 8:30 a.m., carrying dozens of elementary school children.
But today, the grounds were empty of students, teachers and staff -- as were the six other public schools in this town where the unimaginable happened.
The yellow buses were replaced with black vans with tinted windows carrying friends and family. They pulled up outside the town's only funeral home as Newtown buried the first of its slain youth.
A steady stream of mourners strolled down Main Street. Dads in black trench coats held the hands of their wives, their boys dressed in coats and ties, their girls in dress pants.
They walked, heads bowed, to the Honan Funeral Home, a white colonial house where people have helped bury Newtown's dead since 1903. They tried to ignore the chaotic scene outside: the black vans, police cars and TV news satellite trucks.
This was another new day in Newtown, the first weekday since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sunday night's interfaith service was over. President Barack Obama was back in Washington. Schools were closed.
What can you say? How can you explain this heinous act on the nation's most innocent?
Christmas presents, already wrapped and under the tree, will go unopened next week. Siblings will miss their brothers and sisters for the rest of their lives. And the very fabric of a quaint New England community has been altered. Forever.
We have to do better ...
Those were the words of the president as he spoke to the community and the nation. A refrain that's now become a mantra in town. A statement so powerful it evokes tears from moms, dads, grandparents who repeat it.
And it's true.
Twenty-six dead -- 20 children, all aged 6 and 7.
It's unfathomable. And also so real, here.
Every hour or so, a police car or ambulance or fire engine roars down Main Street with its sirens blaring.
Residents shudder. Oh, no, what now?
Reporters, their eyes swollen from shedding their own tears, struggle to ask questions. Residents understand.
Newtown on Monday bid farewell to two 6-year-old boys: Jack Pinto, whose love of sports ran the gamut, but none so deep as football; and his classmate, Noah Pozner, whose family said he could get what he wanted just by batting his long eyelashes.
It's just the beginning of a long healing process, a realization that the normalcy residents awoke to last Friday will never return.
Many flocked to the Newtown General Store, a deli that has long served as a hub of community activity. Among its specialty sandwiches is The Sandy Hook, hot roast beef with bacon, melted cheddar and ranch dressing.
Bob Jacobs, a father of four young children, brought two of his sons to the sandwich shop after paying their respects at Jack Pinto's funeral.