Newtown, CT, USA
Student, Sandy Hook Elementary School
12/14/2012, Newtown, CT, USA
In a heart-rending interview the mother of slain seven-year-old Grace McDonnell told of the last time she saw her daughter alive before she was killed in the Connecticut massacre along with 19 of her schoolmates. A devastated Lynn McDonnell said her last memory of daughter Grace was of the beaming child waving and blowing kisses to her from the bus, on her way to Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night, she bravely said: ‘I take comfort that she’s with friends, and she’s up there with her wonderful principal.’ Amazing grace: Lynn McDonnell, the mother of Grace McDonnell, said that she will always remember her daughter waving and blowing kisses from the bus last Friday morning
‘Each one of those children were so beautiful,’ she said, adding: ‘We have so many angels and so many bright stars shining over us.’ Mrs McDonnell was joined by her husband Chris McDonnell in the heart-wrenching interview.
The devastated parents offered a poignant eulogy to their little girl, speaking of how much she loved to paint, how gracious she was, and how much she will be missed.
When asked what the experience of meeting the President was like, she said that when Mr Obama walked into the room, ‘he was just a dad.’ The couple spoke with the President briefly, and told him of their daughter’s artistic talent. They also gave him one of Grace’s favorite pictures – a cerulean and lime-green painted owl. They said that the President told them that he’d treasure the painting forever.
‘She was a truly, truly special girl,’ her mother said, noting how the lively seven-year-old loved wearing little bows in her hair
In a touching moment, the mother also explained how Grace loved peace, and how she would always draw peace signs in the bathroom window after it fogged up from the shower. The day after the shooting, Mrs McDonnell was in the bathroom and saw her daughter’s etchings of a peace sign, and the words ‘Grace loves Mommy.’
The couple then described the moment they saw their daughter’s white coffin at the funeral home. ‘You felt like the floor was falling beneath you,’ Mrs McDonnell said. But the coffin became a canvas when she, Chris, and their surviving son, Jack, took out the Sharpie markers they had brought with them and began drawing all of Grace’s favorite things.
‘By the time we were done,’ Mrs McDonnell said, ‘it was so covered by all the things she loved’ – including ice cream cones, lighthouses, and seagulls. ‘We had peace when we left,’ she said, noting that the coffin was full of colorful drawings and notes from those who knew and loved her best.
Cooper then asked if they regretted not seeing their daughter one last time. ‘She was so beautiful, and so we’ll take comfort in remembering her beautiful smile,’ adding that Grace would not have wanted them to remember her any other way than with her bubble gum-pink bow placed just so on her blonde hair.
The mother called Cooper following the interview to speak more of her daughter, saying: ‘I feel fearless. I’m going to take on the world for my Gracie girl – I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.’
A total of 26 people were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. The gunman also killed his mother in her home before committing suicide.