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 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.
I love the way you write, Laura!
We are indeed resilient, and there is much joy despite the sorrow.
People are accepting and comforting the LGBT community as never before. They did not die in vain.
Laura G Owens
Thanks so much, Karen. Truly, the world has embraced Orlando as we grieve. And more so than ever, the LGBT community.