The town of Newtown, Conn., started burying the first young victims of last week's slaughter at an elementary school Monday, the task of mourning and remembering the dead in the Connecticut community made almost unbearable by the violence that had ended their brief lives and had stolen all that remained in front of them.
Jack Pinto was only 6, but as a family friend said in a eulogy, he had made his presence in the world well known.
"From the moment Jack arrived in this world, he commanded all the attention in a room," the friend, Mary Radatovich, said during the service in Newtown. "Who could ignore that beautiful energy, the sparkle in his eye, or that spirit that clearly said, 'I am here and I am something special'?"
"We cannot but feel the pain of losing him, but we will never forget the joy of loving him."
After Pinto's funeral had ended, a friend, Nolan Krieger, 8, walked out of the funeral home rubbing his eyes.
"I used to do everything with him," Nolan said of Jack. "We liked to wrestle. We played Wii. We just played all the time. I can't believe I'm never going to see him again."
In another town at about the same time, words were also used to paint a picture of another 6-year-old boy, Noah Pozner, who died inside the school and who on the day he was killed was excited about a birthday party he had been invited to, which would have been held the day after he was killed.
"Noah was a little kid," Alexis
"Noah loved his family dearly, especially his mom, his dad, his big sisters Danielle and Sophia, his big brother Michael, and his dear twin Arielle," Haller continued. "He called Arielle his best friend, and she was -- and always had been."
The funerals came on a day when students across the country returned to schools where security had been increased and where counselors were dispatched to help students and teachers cope with the fallout from the massacre.
"There really are no words to describe what it is like to see these parents," Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut said at a news conference on Monday.
After attending Noah's funeral earlier, the governor said, "You see little coffins and your heart has to ache."
The mourning fell on a day when investigators offered precious few clues about what motivated the gunman.
Investigators said it could take months to recreate a full account of the events preceding and during the killing spree Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which has been sealed off as a crime scene.
The Connecticut State Police on Sunday officially confirmed the identity of the killer as Adam Lanza, 20, saying he shot himself with a handgun after taking the lives of 26 other people, 20 of them first-grade students, at the school, using an assault rifle. Before going on this rampage, Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, 52, in the house they shared not far from the school, law enforcement officials said.
In briefings Monday, Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the state police, said that investigators needed to talk to many witnesses, including two adults who were wounded during the shooting at the school, and to analyze every round of ammunition and every detail of the weapons.
A law enforcement official said investigators recovered a computer from Lanza's house, but it is so damaged that they are not optimistic about getting any information from it.
Malloy fought back tears on Monday as he told reporters about notifying the loved ones that their children would never be coming back, and said he would attend as many of the funerals as he was welcomed to. He also said he would ask to have church bells toll on Friday at the precise time the shootings started a week earlier.