“This is too much,” he told a state trooper standing nearby.
Outside the funeral home was everything the mass shooting at Sandy Hook had become: gun-control protesters, media trucks, police officers and a church group from out of state reciting the names of all 26 victims at the school.
Inside the funeral home was one of those victims: Jack Pinto. Age 6. “A brave boy,” the funeral program read.
For a few hours in central Connecticut on Monday, a national disaster became intensely intimate, and the victims of the mass shooting began to be memorialized one by one. There were two funerals and a wake for victims Monday, each service commemorating a tragedy of its own. The first was for Jack Pinto, and it unfolded to an unbearable soundtrack of grief that will continue at Honan Funeral Home for most of the coming week. A soprano sang hymns at the altar. A mother sobbed at the side of an open casket. A black hearse idled out back, waiting to transport the coffin to a cemetery up the street.
There are many ways to measure what was lost Friday morning at Sandy Hook, a school shooting that has spurred a national debate about public safety and a speech by the president. But no accounting of the damage was as searing as the one that began Monday, when parents stepped behind lecterns and spoke about the children they would miss.
A boy who loved tacos so much that he wanted to run a taco factory when he grew up.
A boy who spiked his hair with gel and sang at the top of his lungs.
A boy who adored the New York Giants and loved to wear his football jersey.
Jack lay in his casket Monday afternoon wearing that jersey, his favorite outfit, bearing the No. 80 of Giants receiver Victor Cruz. A cross was placed in Jack’s left hand, and a small stuffed shark was tucked under his elbow. Two hundred mourners crowded into a space intended for 125, and at least 50 more stood outside for the entirety of the hour-long service. They hugged one another and held umbrellas against the rain. One woman fainted and was helped out by firefighters. A young boy walking into the service suddenly turned around and buried his head into his father’s knee.
It was an extraordinary display of grief that unfolded simultaneously at two other funeral homes Monday afternoon. In Monroe, Conn., hundreds of mourners lined up for a wake to remember James Mattioli, 6. He had lived on the same block as two other victims, but on Monday, the mourners spoke only of James: how he had often asked his grandparents when he’d be old enough to order a “foot-long sandwich,” and how he wore shorts no matter the weather.