Since Noah Pozner, 6, was shot dead by a semiautomatic rifle in Sandy Hook Elementary School, his mother Veronique has had persistent nightmares of running through abandoned building desperately looking for her son.
The six-year-old — the first Sandy Hook student to be buried because of a Jewish tradition to conduct funerals swiftly — is described as energetic and academically gifted:
He already knew how to read; he had a vocabulary well beyond his years, using words like “DNA” and “dynamic.”
“He excelled academically,” says [his half-sister] Danielle. “His teachers said he was really, really, smart.”
He was on a constant path of discovery. “It was always, ‘How does this work? Why does this happen?’ He wanted to understand cause and effect,” says Veronique.
Noah also wondered about God, asking his mother, “If God exists then who created God?”
Pozner also recalls the gut-wrenching trauma of learning about her son’s death as she waited with other Sandy Hook parents and children in a nearby firehouse:
For hours, she sat in the firehouse, waiting. Her stomach clenched; she vomited in the bathroom. When she came out there was pizza and donuts, but she couldn’t eat. Soon, nuns, priests, ministers and a rabbi arrived. “When I saw all those clergy people I knew in my gut of guts and my heart of hearts that they were dead,” she recalls. “I knew there was absolutely no way they would dispatch this multi-denominational fan of clergy people were it not the case that the news would be absolutely catastrophic.”
Finally, an official announcement was made: 20 child fatalities. “That is when, for me, my whole world shifted on its axis,” she says. “It was like you are sitting in a room, and everything, including you, is turned upside down and you are sitting on the ceiling instead of the floor. You have this surreal sense of void, like all the air has been sucked out of the room.” Veronique wanted to place a blanket on Noah. “They told us, ‘No, it is a crime scene.’ They would not let us go.”
And in a harrowing description of Noah’s corpse laid to rest, some idea is given of the damage the assault weapon wrought on his young body:
The family placed stuffed animals, a blanket and letters to Noah into the casket. Lastly, Veronique put a clear plastic rock with a white angel inside — an “angel stone” — in his right hand. She asked the funeral director to place an identical one in his left, which was badly mangled. Noah’s famously long eyelashes, which she spoke about in her eulogy, rested lightly on his cheeks and a cloth covered the place where his lower jaw had been.