I would like to thank each and everyone of you individually for your love and support but I may have to settle for a collective thank you as all my energy now goes to making sure nobody in my family falls into the gaping void Noah's death has left in our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you. Your presence has made a huge difference: Arielle may be too young to fully comprehend what comments and messages mean but Sophia who is almost eight is awed by the fact that people have written from all over the world and since she is a loving little soul, I know she finds some degree of comfort in knowing that so many people are mourning Noah and his schoolmates (who were also hers). She speaks often of her fallen principal, of Ms. Soto, the heroic teacher who died, and of her little sister's teacher who had all of her students hide in a tiny bathroom. They are her new super heroes...
Arielle was sitting on my lap towards the end of the service (Noah was buried yesterday) and she was getting a bit restless so I gave her my phone. She opened Camera Roll and started scrolling (I have 2500+ pics in there). She found a picture of the three of them together and as the rabbi was speaking, she lowered her head and started pinching the picture in and out, focusing in turn on Sophia or on Noah. Her head was pressing against me and I could only see her bent little profile and the picture she was looking at. She tried a few other ones but always came back to that one which dates back at least a year and isn't easy to find among all the others. Somehow she went straight back to it every time. There was something of the sacred in the way she was concentrating on the threesome they had been.
When the service ended, she turned off the screen and handed me the phone. She has no words about what happened yet but to all who think a six-year old doesn't understand what a funeral service is all about, I say you are wrong. They do and it helps them grieve.
Sorry if all this is in no particular order. I just want to share some of what we are going through. I would like to ask you not to comment anymore please. I know you are out there, holding hands, making a huge circle around our grief and the other families'. But in truth there is nothing to add to what you already so lovingly said.
If you want to keep up with what's going on though, please check this blog from time to time. I will post what my grandson Michael said at the service about his little brother, also what my son Alexis said. It was all so so on target and the words need to be out there. I would love it if you could remember Noah not as a victim but for the impish little rascal he was and to celebrate his life. I kept thinking of him yesterday as we were driving down (or up, I can't tell for sure) I-95 from the funeral home to the cemetery. We were part of a huge motorcade with a flock of motorcycles in front, dozens of police cars, flashing lights everywhere, every entrance to the highway closed off. Noah was honored like a head of state and he would have loved it. Especially the motorcycles! Although I think he would have preferred to have some sirens blaring as well... He would also have loved the fact that, on the local roads, we passed so many stop signs without stopping and always with a policeman staring right at us. It would have been all a huge amusement park ride for him and I will always remember it that way, a ride that Noah would have loved.
Also, at the cemetery after he was put to rest and there was nothing left to do but leave, my daughter and my oldest grand-daughter (the little ones didn't come to the burial) turned towards the long lines of mourners which had formed on each side of the path. Veronique and Danielle both held a dozen or so balloons in their hands, blue and white, Noah's favorite colors. Veronique repeated what she had said at the service: "now you have the wings you always wanted, soar, my son, soar." And they released the balloons. The balloons soared fast and high, soon they were over the long fringe of tall poplars that lined the horizon and one after the other they disappeared in the mist. The symbol was so powerful that it may be what I will remember the most about that dark, dark day, the bleakest of all our lives.
Finally what I want to do today is say thank you for the love and support we have received and continue receiving from the community. I especially want to thank and honor State Trooper Sean Hickey who had been assigned to us from Friday to last night. I truly don't think we would have pulled ourselves together without him in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. I told him he should change his name officially to Guardian Angel. He is an awesome person, caring, loving, never intruding but always there. There was nothing he couldn't get done and even though he is no longer assigned to us, he said he would keep working on a request we made: getting the twins' jackets and backpacks back from the school. Thank you, Sean! You are our hero too.
Last but not least, I want to thank President Obama. He held my daughter in his arms and she whispered her grief to him and he whispered back. Even though he had all these other families to go see, he didn't seem in a rush. He was perfect with the little kids and I could see they didn't shy away from him at all. On the contrary. Sophia gave him a thank you note she had made and he said he would put it in a special place and he folded it and put it in his inside pocket against his heart. That brought a huge smile to her face. He played with Arielle's bear and made her laugh. Our President is a good man.