Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Month: June 2016

The Pulse tragedy. What finally made me cry

#OrlandoStrong

#OrlandoStrong

After my city’s tragedy, the world’s tragedy, I didn’t cry.

Oh my eyes welled up a little, but I was too shocked, too devastated, too in despair to fully release my horror.

I could not cry because perhaps if I did, I might not stop.

For years and reasons that no longer matter, I’ve learned to place layers of protective emotional covering over my heart. And so throughout my city’s beautiful candlelit vigils, throughout the crowds of sobbing, the overwhelming grief, the tearful hugs, the piles of flowers and the carved crosses lined with victims’ names, I did not cry. 

I do not want to sob.

Still, we must honor our fallen and our hurting, even, especially, if the tragedy is close to home

But how I do this, or you do this or they do this, really doesn’t matter. How we sit inside each stage of grief is for the individual to decide.

I write.

I watch briefly, the stark gruesome news. I painfully swallow the Pulse reality in measured small doses. I cannot imagine the overwhelming sorrow the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers, daughters and sons bear now and forever.

There’s no formula for how each of us heal. When I feel drowned in the details of that night, the night that happened 30 minutes from my home, I turn off the TV and radio.

A mother of 11 protected her son. She died. He did not.

A daughter, only 18 and the youngest victim in the shooting, escaped safely out of the nightclub until she ran back in to save her friend. In moments of gunfire she texted her parents and begged for help. As she huddled in a bathroom stall the gunman came in and she was shot in the arm.  She might have lived, were she not hit in that artery and waited and…

My daughter is 18.

I listen to the stories, to the surreal hell the survivors endured while their friends and others died in pools of blood inches away. Brain matter, one said, on her clothes.

I shudder and then I move away from the words, from the horror of that night. If I don’t I feel helpless and paralyzed.

And so I grieve by activating, by renewing hope through action. I give. I relentlessly support gun control, again and again and again.

I look for signs of recovery. I look for billowing strength.

And those signs are everywhere in Orlando.

You can’t step away from the wallpapering of sad reminders when it’s your town, and yet you don’t want to step away from the showering support from all over the world.  The world is blanketing our community in love.

It was finally this Keep Dancing Orlando video shared on Facebook the other morning, this, that made me weep.

The joy despite the sorrow, allowed my tears to flow.

Our City Beautiful is the world’s epicenter of fantastical fun, of imagination, of diversity and always, not just now, of support for our LGBT community.

And so we rise and once again — we dance.

#OrlandoStrong

#OrlandoUnited

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To Westboro Baptist: We win

Orlando Strong

Orlando Strong

I’ve long been horrified by Westboro Baptist.

On the continuum of LGBT haters, they spew the worst anti LGBT post tragedy bile imaginable with such Godly views as: they deserved it.

WB is apparently “Orlando Bound” to protest, as they often do, at local funerals of victims of the Pulse tragedy.

It goes without saying but it takes a special kind of broken, I’d suggest mental illness, to vomit hate on the grieving.

But here’s the thing, Westboro Baptist or any anti LGBT individual or hate group, you’re coming to my town. These are my people.

Your kind is not welcome here there or anywhere across our nation. You are the fringe, the true Left Behind, the outlier.

Our Orlando churches, many who stood in the way of same-sex marriage and who continue to pit God against gays, never set foot into your language. They grapple, they do not gouge out hearts.

Their version of God might tell them (sadly) that the LGBT community doesn’t deserve civil rights and protections. Still, their God, Muslim, Christian or otherwise, doesn’t command them to stomp on the mourning.

My Central Florida community is filled with bridge builders. This is who we are. This is what we do. Our local LGBT community has led the conversation for decades.

Cheers to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs for her warning to funeral protesters: “If that happens we will not leave their presence unchallenged.”

Westboro, it’s best you turn that bus around because love and grief make for swift and determined justice.

I’m not suggesting violence. I never suggest violence, which the rational know begets…

I’m saying funeral protesters will be legally banned. Westboro knows this is likely and yet emboldened by a perverse sense of religious righteousness, they dare to come anyway.

But Westboro protesters will be surrounded and outnumbered. Calmly. Swiftly. Love advocates will stare protesters directly in the eyes, into the windows of the soulless. Unflinching. Many will say nothing.

‘Angels’ block Westboro Baptist Church protest at Orlando memorial.

And so, we win.

It may not feel like much of a triumph in the wake of our community’s deepest tragedy made more painful by verbal assaults on the grieving.

But we are indeed winning.

More of Us, than You.

#OrlandoStrong #OrlandoUnited

 

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