On December 14, 2012, Nelba Márquez-Greene sent two of her children off to Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, just like she’d done many times before. But that day, only one returned. Her 6-year-old daughter Ana was one of 26 — including 20 small children — killed that day in what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
VICE News Tonight spoke with Nelba for a story marking the tragic day. “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, mom,” little Ana told Nelba that fateful morning before heading off to school. Nelba had been fretting about something work-related and the 6-year-old was trying to lift her mother’s spirits. “That was the kind of kid she was,” Nelba remembers. Within hours, whatever work problems had been bothering Nelba were made inconsequential as she learned that gunfire had broken out at the school.
“The natural inclination of many people is to somehow find redemption in it. So, they’ll say things like, ‘Well at least they’re in a better place.’ Or, ‘At least they’re now angels.’ Or, ‘At least they’re …’ Don’t at least my story,” Nelba says. “There is no redeeming factor in … I had a 6-year-old, I put her on a bus and she didn’t come home. Redeeming that story is helpful to you. It’s not helpful to me.” Nelba goes on to discuss what haunts her about that dark day, and the days that followed, a half a decade later. The “camera clicks” of the national news media is a sound from that day that she cannot forget, she says. The media’s wall-to-wall coverage and the scores of reporters that descended on Newtown left her feeling violated. Nelba goes on to read a heartbreaking statement from her surviving son, Isaiah, who is now 13 years old.
“I would say that the only difference between the early days and now is that the shock has worn off,” Nelba said. “When you have lost a child, a beloved, prayed-for child, to gun violence, I will only say for us, it doesn’t get better.”
Watch the full video below.