One by one, kids too young to be attending funerals attended services Monday for kids too young to be laying in coffins.
The first funerals for those killed in the Connecticut school shooting last week were held in Newtown, a New England town stricken by grief since a gunman went on an unspeakable bloody rampage.
The two boys laid to rest were both 6 years old —one a huge football fan buried in Giants’ player Victor Cruz’s jersey, the other a whip-smart youngster whose twin sister survived the rampage.
Family, friends and townspeople streamed to two funeral homes to say goodbye to Jack Pinto, who loved the New York Giants and idolized their star wide receiver, and Noah Pozner, who liked to figure out how things worked mechanically.
In front of the funeral home where relatives mourned Noah, well-wishers placed two teddy bears, a bouquet of white flowers and a single red rose at the base of an old maple tree.
"He was just a really lively, smart kid," said Noah's uncle Alexis Haller, of Woodinville, Wash. "He would have become a great man, I think. He would have grown up to be a great dad."
Noah's twin sister, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy by 20-year-old Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six adults dead last week at Sandy Hook Elementary in an attack so horrifying that authorities could not say whether the school would ever reopen.
At Jack's service, hymns rang out from inside the funeral home. A mourner, Gwendolyn Glover, said that Jack was in an open casket and that the service was a message of comfort and protection, particularly for other children.
"The message was: You're secure now. The worst is over," she said.
The funeral program bore a quotation from the Book of Revelation: "God shall wipe away all tears. There shall be no more death. Neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."
A fir tree opposite the funeral home was strung with paper angels carrying the names of everyone who died, including the teachers.
At both funeral homes, people wrestled with the same questions as the rest of the country — what steps could and should be taken to prevent anything like the massacre from happening again.
"If people want to go hunting, a single-shot rifle does the job, and that does the job to protect your home, too. If you need more than that, I don't know what to say," Ray DiStephan said outside Noah's funeral.
He added: "I don't want to see my kids go to schools that become maximum-security fortresses. That's not the world I want to live in, and that's not the world I want to raise them in."
With more funerals planned this week, the road ahead for Newtown, which had already started purging itself of Christmas decorations in a joyful season turned mournful, was clouded.
"I feel like we have to get back to normal, but I don't know if there is normal anymore," said Kim Camputo, mother of two children, 5 and 10, who attend a different school. "I'll definitely be dropping them off and picking them up myself for a while."
With Sandy Hook Elementary still designated a crime scene, State Police Lt. Paul Vance said that it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district. The people of Newtown, consumed by loss, were not ready to address its future.
"We're just now getting ready to talk to our son about who was killed," said Robert Licata, the father of a student who escaped harm during the shooting. "He's not even there yet."
Classes were canceled Monday, and Newtown's other schools were to reopen Tuesday. The district made plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe.
Sandy Hook desks are being taken to the Chalk Hill school in Monroe, empty since town schools consolidated last year, and tradesmen are donating their services to get the school ready within a matter of days.
"These are innocent children that need to be put on the right path again," Monroe police Lt. Brian McCauley said.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.