Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Love wins in Newtown'

Ana's family finds strength in faith and friends for her funeral today

  • Print

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- It's like God is crying, said the blonde woman in the Yankees baseball cap, as rain lashed down on this New England town Friday morning.

A hard wind knocked over Christmas trees set up to honour the dead. Volunteers hurried to pick up tiny angel ornaments and silver balls painted with the names of murdered children. Sodden stuffed animals lay in ever-growing heaps.

At exactly 9:30 a.m., there was silence in Newtown. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy asked for a moment of reflection and then the sound of church bells ringing across his state. It was a week to the minute since the rampage began. They buried five more shooting victims here Friday. Hearses are a constant presence on the town's tree-lined streets.

The funeral for Ana Márquez-Greene, who lived half her six years in Winnipeg, is today in nearby Bloomfield. Her deeply religious family is calling this "her home-going celebration" and have asked friends and family to wear something purple, sparkly or with sequins to honour their baby girl.

Ana was one of ours. She belonged to our city, to the members of her church family, her friends, to the collective of moms and dads and grandparents of our city. She died in America, in this small, lovely town where residents believed they were out of harm's way. They were wrong. One of the first billboards you see leaving Hartford's airport directs you to a gun store. Under the circumstances, it's a sucker punch.

Newtown is where Ana died, but her parents are determined their daughter's legacy will not be defined by an act of madness. Nelba Márquez and Jimmy Greene are celebrating the girl who loved to sing and dance, the child who once claimed she was going to "teach Jesus to cha-cha."

They've set up a memorial Facebook page, filling it with photos and stories of their daughter and her brother, Isaiah.

"Tomorrow during Ana's home-going, we will light candles for all of her classmates, her principal and all of the teachers and staff who perished," Nelba Márquez posted Friday,

"We will honor the first responders. We will pray and lift up all families involved on that terrible day. Love wins in Newtown."

Earlier, she confessed she was having a tough day. "Sweet Ana, morning times are the worst," she wrote. "You used to wake up this entire house with such spunk! Remember that time I was having a hard time at work and you told me, 'Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry mom'? We are so sad without you."

Their Winnipeg friends, many of whom have flown to Newtown to support the family, say their faith will sustain them.

"Their belief in Jesus Christ is carrying them," said Karen Schroeder, whose six-year-old daughter was a close friend of Ana's. "It's a long road. Ana loved the Lord. She loved to talk about Jesus."

Schroeder and her husband met the Márquez-Greene family at Whyte Ridge Baptist Church. The women became fast friends. The Schroeders learned about the slaughter and Ana's death while they were in Fargo at a hockey tournament.

"We sobbed and sobbed in the hotel room," she said. They broke the news to their children softly.

"We told them that something really bad had happened, that someone had made a poor choice."

There is no language or tradition for this, no prescribed way to cope with the slaughter of innocents. Newtown is draped with earnest signs painted on now-sagging sheets. "Pray for Newtown," they read, strung between trees and across bridges. Cardboard angels adorn a roadside ditch; scores of stuffed bears, candles and bouquets of flowers have followed.

High school girls, giggly in one instant and weeping the next, wear brand-new T-shirts promising to live their lives with peace and faith. There is random tenderness, with residents asking strangers how they're doing, how they're really doing, and offering up a hug if it seems welcome. Coffee was free at the Demitasse café Friday morning, with a donation to the Sandy Hook School trust fund encouraged. Most store windows hold small, defiant signs reading "Sandy Hook We Choose Life." Frank's Unisex is having a cut-a-thon to raise money for the victims' families. The Queen St. Tailor's window is filled with brightly coloured stars, each printed with the name of a dead child.

Under a tarp near the school, the sweet smell of wax from memorial candles mingled with the scent of hundreds of flowers. Father Guilermo Torres stood outside in the rain, offering prayer and comfort to those who asked.

Some people are angry and beyond comfort. Lehana Mercado and John Kim drove to Newtown from the Bronx, N.Y. Mercado, the mother of a five-year-old girl, was carrying cellophane-wrapped red roses.

"I was crying, I couldn't sleep," when she heard the news of the murders. "I won't recover. I don't think America will recover, either. It shouldn't."

Ashley Perrault came to the memorial with her boyfriend and their four-year-old daughter. The little girl goes to a Catholic school. Her mom thought she'd be safe there. Now she wonders if Kiersten will be safe anywhere. They were just babies, she keeps repeating.

Musician Paul Pontillo said he grew up in a rough neighbourhood, where violence was expected. Not here, he said, not in this town that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting.

"My greatest fear is to know now that this could happen anywhere," he said.

The Newtown slayings are this decade's 9/11. The mass murder was a monstrous assault on what we hold sacred, on our sense of personal safety and on the previously held belief that children too young to have enemies are free from deliberate harm. These slayings will shape us and our children for generations.

The Márquez-Greene family is determined they will not crumble from their sorrow.

"Our shining hope is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From this we take comfort that you are in a way better place than any of us," Ana's mom wrote. "I miss you so much. I'm going to do everything I can to remember and remind everyone that love wins. I already talked to the governor and the President. I would much rather talk to you though. I love you Ana. Daddy and your brother miss you too."

When U.S. President Barack Obama met the families of the victims, one Winnipeg friend said, Márquez showed him pictures of her two children. He joked that Isaiah's ears stuck out like his, but assured Márquez her son was better-looking. They both cried while they hugged. Obama left with photos of Ana and Isaiah.

Newtown is a place of sorrow now. Flags are flying at half-mast and there are too many dark suits and solemn faces. So many dead. So many shattered families. Today, Ana Márquez-Greene is being sent home.

"Ana was very beautiful," her mother wrote Thursday. "She was also very smart. She was reading at a 6th grade level. She loved math picture problems. She loved arts and crafts. She loved ballet. She loved people fiercely.

"Every day off the bus, she used to wait for us to give her mami and daddy hugs. Now she waits to receive us in heaven. We can't wait for that hug. Love wins."

Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry. Love wins.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2012 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Stuart Murray announces musical RightsFest for CMHR opening weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • Goose sits in high grass near Marion Friday afternoon for cover -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 18 - May 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Poll

Should the city grant mosquito buffer zones for medical reasons only?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google