Many children did not know yet that their friends were dead.
Parent Lisa Terifay captured the anxiety and grief of the Sandy Hook community on her Facebook page.
"In a few hours the more difficult part of this whole thing will begin," she wrote.
"We'll start hearing stories of the people who didn't make it safely out of our beloved Sandy Hook Elementary. The kids will find out that their amazing principal was killed. ... I mourn the loss of a beautiful 7-year-old-boy, Chase Kowalski. To imagine his sweet face and his life ending that way is more than I can put into words."
Aiden Licata knew his beloved teacher had been hurt, but he didn't know Soto was never coming back.
"He's reassuring himself that she is going to be OK," Diana Licata said. "He keeps saying, 'I really hope it's not her.' "
The Licatas tried their best to console their children.
As did Nick and Laura Phelps. They hadn't said much about the shooting to their son, a first-grader, and daughter, a third-grader.
They knew their 6-year-old was unaware he had lost close friends. They knew both of their children had heard bad things. They wanted to make sure that they, as parents, said the right words.
"We're going to learn what to say before we say it," Laura Phelps said. "We're going to live in our church." And seek counseling.
For the time being, they stuck close to their kids. Friday night, the whole family -- including their two middle-schoolers -- crawled into one bed.
Christmas filled with loss
Robbie and Alissa Parker spent Friday night knowing their daughter's body was still inside the school. Authorities had to make sure they identified every person before they could release the bodies.
It would be many hours before America would know of the Parkers' grief. Police released "the list" to the media Saturday afternoon.
Robbie Parker stepped forward to tell the world about his little Emilie. Of her smile and her compassion and how she carried around her markers and pencils so she'd never miss an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her.
"As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person that Emilie was and how many lives that she was able to touch in her short time here on Earth," he said.
"She loved to use her talents to touch the lives of everyone that she came in contact with."
Parker offered his condolences to all the families affected. That included the family of the shooter.
"I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and our love and support goes out to you as well."
America watched as a father wept openly over the loss of his bright light, as he struggled to compose himself.
The reach of his words was long -- in Newtown, reeling from shock, and in the rest of the nation, trying to comprehend another stain on its history.
Tragedy has a way of stripping people of artifice and exposing the very best of people. There is often a beauty in human frailty in its purest.
Robbie Parker is an example of that, as are many of the residents of Newtown. With their lives shattered, they searched for ways to cope. Not just on Friday and this horrible weekend, but they'll do so in the many days to come.
Signs in town asked for prayers, love and hope.
Just a few days before Christmas, Newtown's usual holiday glitter was now punctuated with sorrow. People hung ornaments on a Christmas tree near a memorial at Sandy Hook Elementary. One resident suggested the town hold a Christmas Day vigil.