An Irish American grandmother has surrounded herself with the Christmas presents intended for her precious angel Gracie, lost forever in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Little Gracie McDonnell was one of the 20 children tragically gunned down in the Connecticut school on Friday.
Days later, her devoted grandmother Mary Ann McDonnell is still struggling to come to terms with the reality of her loss.
Surrounded by bags of Christmas gifts intended for Gracie, she told the Boston Herald of her devastating loss.
“Gracie’s gone, the little girly girl is gone,” McDonnell said, her eyes brimming with tears as she spoke of the tot who loved playing dress-up with her grandmother’s jewellery and wearing pink.
“They kept saying, ‘They can’t find her. They can’t find her,’ ” McDonnell recalled of the aftermath. “All day long I was praying she would be OK.
“She was a wonderful little girl. She was always smiling. I think everybody should know about these beautiful children whose lives were cut short.”
Mary Ann told of her granddaughter’s love for art projects, soccer and gymnastics and how she adored her King Charles Spaniel, Puddin.
Grace lived in Newtown with her devoted mother and father and her 12-year-old brother Jack. Dad Chris commuted about 90 minutes to work in New Jersey every day because the family loved living in the community so much, her grandmother said.
McDonnell added: “A little baby like that - I just hope she didn’t suffer.”
Six-year-old Grace McDonnell was described as ‘utterly adorable’ and ‘full of life’ according to reports in the Daily Mail. Her eyes were so blue and her hair was so blonde that friends thought she looked like a ‘little doll’.
The paper also reports that the McDonnells live in a $500,000 detached home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut that is just one street away from where alleged shooter, Adam Lanza, lived.
The report says that from their front window they can almost see the home where the man who allegedly murdered their daughter is said to have slain his own mother before embarking on the murderous spree.
Neighbor Dorothy Werden, 49, said: “I just choke up when I think about it. Grace was like a little doll. She was utterly adorable.
“I used to see her waiting for the school bus over the road from our house every day. She had blonde hair and blue eyes - she was like a little Barbie doll.
“When I saw Lynn and Christopher at the school with Lynn being held up by a nun I knew things were not good. I can’t imagine what they are going through.”
A male neighbor who declined to be named said: “What they are going through is indescribable. We are very close. It’s just awful.”