AUSTIN -- Dec. 14, 2012: a shooter opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Less than two hours away, then 18-year-old Danielle Vabner woke up in her college dorm.
“I just remember waking up to five missed calls from my mom, and that doesn't usually happen, so I knew something was wrong. I just knew it in my gut,” Vabner told KVUE.
She quickly learned there had been a shooting where her three young siblings went to school.
Noah's twin sister and older sister were unharmed, but it would be hours before Danielle’s family learned Noah had been killed.
Vabner’s mom called her as she rushed home from college.
“I remember her calling me hysterically, saying, 'My little boy is gone,'" Vabner said.
Vabner said the days immediately after the tragedy were filled with tears and anger. As part of her healing process, Vabner and her mother got matching tattoos: a reminder of her little brother, a young boy she said was so full of life.
“That's kind of what makes it even harder, to come to terms with the fact that he's not here anymore, because someone that's so full of life, how are they gone in a matter of seconds?" she said.
Since the shooting, Vabner made the choice to transfer to the University of Texas.
“It was hard to be around those people that were with me on the day that it happened, and just to watch them act like it never happened, or just not know what to say, made it really hard, so I guess I wanted to find a new normal,” said Vabner.
However, no matter where she is, Vabner said the memories of six-year old Noah, the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, will never fade.
“He loved superheroes, and he had a Spiderman costume that he would wear all the time. I just remember coming home all the time and he would be playing in his Spiderman costume, which he refused to take off, and he would play Star Wars. I just have those little boy memories of him, and it's definitely sad to think that I’ll never have any memories of him being older," Vabner said.
Vabner said she never understood why anniversaries were so hard until the shooting.
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.