As students in Newtown returned to class Tuesday, James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos were laid to rest.
“Heaven gained an angel today,” read a sign outside the funeral procession for Mattioli, 6, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings Friday.
As the vehicle carrying his casket arrived at the St. John’s Cemetery in Darien, Conn., after the noon funeral service at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, onlookers wiped away tears as the entire community continued to cope with what amounts to unbearable grief.
Earlier in the day, for a 10 a.m. service, the casket for Rekos, also 6, was also carried into Saint Rose of Lima Church prior to her burial at St. Rose cemetery.
In James’s obituary, Mark and Cindy Mattioli described their son as “an energetic, loving friend to all” who “loved baseball, basketball, swimming, arm wrestling, and playing games on the iPad.”
“James was especially thoughtful and considerate, always the first to welcome guests at the backdoor with a hug and his contagious smile,” they added. He was outdoorsy and loved doing yard work with his dad, but would be just as happy “to cuddle on the couch at the end of the day with his mom, grabbing his pillow and brown fleece blanket.”
He also “loved and admired his big sister [Anna] and wanted to do everything that she could do. They were the best of friends.”
In a statement, Rich and Krista Rekos said their daughter was “a creative, beautiful little girl who loved playing with her little brothers, Travis and Shane.”
“Jessica loved everything about horses,” they said. “She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses, and writing stories about horses.” Jessica was promised she could have a horse when she turned 10. For Christmas this year, she asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.
“We cannot imagine our life without her,” her parents said. “We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can’t play with his best friend.”