“We rise, we blink a time or two, and we move ahead. There is so very much we don’t know how to do at this juncture, so much uncertain. What is certain is we are carried, free of question, free of expectation, free of any charge, by you. All of you. We will learn, some of it from you, some of it for you. All of it with Ben.
So many people have told us they can’t imagine or comprehend what we’ve been through or where we are. It’s worth noting that ‘comprehension’ used to mean ‘inclusion’ more than ‘understanding’. In that sense, we feel you comprehend us completely, utterly and fully. We feel, all of us, more comprehended than we ever thought possible. And we have no idea how to let you know the depth of the significance of this.
What do we want? For you to hug each other and your children, deeply and often. To pause, take a breath, allow the warmth of the season into your homes and hearts, and know that it will be all right. We’ll all be all right. We have felt loved in the past, but that previous measure was a thimble as to this boundless sea. You are at once our ocean, our vessel, and the wind that fills our sails.
And there, always on the horizon, there for all of us, is our lighthouse.
We love you.”
The letter was signed by the little boy’s father David Cole Wheeler.
Ben Wheeler was one of the 20 first graders killed in one of the worst school shooting rampages in U.S. history. Six teachers and other school officials were also killed in the massacre before gunman Adam Lanza fatally shot himself.
Ben was laid to rest last Tuesday, following a memorial service in his honor in his old neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens.
Ben’s family described him as “an irrepressibly bright and spirited boy whose love of fun and excitement at the wonders of life and the world could rarely be contained. His rush to experience life was headlong, creative and immediate.”
Ben adored his older brother, Nate, and together, the pair made enough noise for four children, his family said. At school, he often ran across the soccer field long after it was necessary, but smiled and laughed as he moved the ball “nearly always at full tilt.”
Ben was also becoming a skilled swimmer and loved his lessons. He was thrilled to get to school to see his teacher and his many friends in his first grade class.
Ben was also a member of Tiger Scout Den 6, which met at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse.
Earlier in December, he performed in a piano recital, and reveled in his ability to sit long enough to play one piece.
He was a fan of the Beatles, lighthouses, and the riding the 7 subway train to Sunnyside, Queens.
Just before school Friday, Ben said, “I still want to be an architect, but I also want to be a paleontologist, because that’s what Nate is going to be and I want to do everything Nate does.”
Ben’s mother, Francine, is a music teacher and performer in Newtown, and a founder of the children’s music group the Dream Jam Band. His father, David, is an illustrator and designer, and is a member with his wife of the Flagpole Radio Café live show in Newtown.
The final three funerals for victims were held Saturday, more than a week after the Dec. 14 morning rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
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