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December 14, 2017 will mark five years without loved ones for families of children and educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Newtown Bee will share remembrances of victims of 12/14 throughout the fall, written by family members or with the assistance of staff at The Newtown Bee. Not all families care to participate, and we respect that. This week, Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman share their words.
Avielle Rose Richman was born in San Diego, Calif., on October 17, 2006 into a family of story tellers. With a spitfire personality, and a love of laughter, Avielle was rarely without a giant grin and often barefoot. Like her parents, she loved stories and demanded them as she was falling asleep, taking a bath, riding in the car, and on every walk she took. She already understood that her life, her growing up, was going to be a series of stories.
Avielle had a grand spirit of adventure and was willing to bravely try new things. When Jennifer, Jeremy, and Avielle moved across the country to Newtown, Connecticut in late January of 2011, Avielle was excited by the prospect of living where she could play in the snow, and quickly became a fearless sledder. She loved Barbies as much as superheroes, and would readily switch between fairy and pixie play to her superhero persona, Bombs Galore – all with her faithful sidekick, super-dog Max, of course. She had no problem transitioning from playing with her dolls to practicing archery in the yard, and was happy to go from a kung fu workout with dad to a cooking lesson with mom. Avielle loved music and would sing everything. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Avielle would reply that she wanted to be an artist… and a spy…oh, and a fairy princess, and a writer. Her open-minded willingness to try new things made for a long list of hobbies. Avielle was a connoisseur of parks and playgrounds, played soccer, and went to summer sports camp (where she was the only girl to enroll), painted and sketched, ran and hiked, enjoyed fishing, and — perhaps most of all — riding horses and swimming. Avielle’s sense of wonder, inherent in all children, drove her to love the magic of fireflies and all things that glowed.
Having a fairly unique name, Avielle had grown comfortable helping people pronounce it. She’d say “Ah-Vee-Elle,” and proudly spell it out “A-V-I-E-L-L-E.” Avielle also loved to name things and, without hesitation, named her beta fish Khaihawana Punk. The large sugar maples next to her house? Efford and Maeve. And the gargoyles perched above the patio door, Galen and Grolig. She was always amazed when two people shared the same name.
Avielle had a strong sense of justice and fairness, and was a steadfast friend and advocate for anyone she thought in need. On the other hand, a young child’s view of justice and fairness made every negotiation quite a stressful chore for her parents — turning off the TV or iPad, starting her weekly rubric homework, getting out of the bath, and, yes, getting into bed at night. As a result, Avielle was often reminded of the family rules:
1. No whining.
2. Show respect to people and things that are special.
3. You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.
4. Mind your manners and social graces.
5. No button pushing.
6. Take responsibility for your own actions.
Avielle loved school and was fiercely proud to be part of a community comprised of her classmates and educators. Avielle was murdered with 19 of her classmates and 6 of her teachers and administrators on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Our heartbreak and sadness are unfathomable. Out of this tragedy, Jennifer and Jeremy created The Avielle Foundation to fund research exploring the underpinnings in the brain that lead to violent behaviors, and to foster the engagement of communities to apply these insights and build compassion. Please support us and help to prevent violence and build compassion — visit www.AvielleFoundation.org.