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.
"Mrs. Soto! Mrs. Soto! She's gone," they said in unison.
One of the girls said she watched the teacher fall to the ground.
Without prompting, one of the boys added, "He had a big gun and he had a little gun."
The other boy said, "Yeah, yeah, he had a big gun and a little gun."
Then they both began anew their chilling cry. "We can't go back to school. We can't go back to school ..."
Blowing Mom a kiss
Grace McDonnell, 7, enjoyed Sandy Hook Elementary School with its loving teachers and inviting learning environment. Earlier in the week she had a stomachache, and her mother suggested she stay home.
"No way," the girl said. "I have too much fun there, and I don't want to miss anything."
Eager to learn, Grace would pack her bag the night before school and skip to the bus stop when it was time to leave.
The night before the tragedy, Mom and Dad tucked their only daughter in bed. "See you in the morning," Chris McDonnell told her. "Don't let the bed bugs bite."