In the light of the Manchester bombing, I’ve decided to continue posting my initial reactions from the Pulse attack. As a city, we are approaching the one year anniversary of the Pulse massacre. I can hardly believe it’s been a year since 49 lives were taken from us in an act of hatred. However, I believe it’s important to discuss the pain, devastation and eventual healing that comes from being a witness to such an event. My hope is that sharing these thoughts will continue to foster empathy and connection. Until we connect with our fellow humans, of all races, creed, colors, political affiliations and ages, we will continue to experience tragedies like the Pulse shooting and the Manchester bombing.
It’s up to us to connect to one another with love, kindness and understanding.
As a resident of Orlando and a Leeds Lass, I stand with you Manchester. You are not alone, and you will see a brighter day. I promise.
Two Days After
I feel lost. As though I want to sink into a hole and stay there. I feel guilty for feeling this way as none of my friends were hurt or injured in the attack. Meanwhile 49 families have spent the last two days experiencing a pain so severe I cannot imagine. They’ve felt their world shatter as the name of their loved one appeared on that list.
I’ve been lucky enough to not go through that horror, but I can’t shake the feeling that I could have been there. I can’t stop seeing my memories of Pulse play over and over again in my head. I can see that stage, the dancers, that tiny hallway that led to the bathroom as music vibrated through my chest. Then I see the bathroom, with its sign saying ‘only one person in a stall at a time.’ I think about the female bathroom. My brain focuses on how that space was a sanctuary of calm between the crazy spurts of sweat, dance and drink.
I think about the victims crammed in a space that I had found respite in many times – a place where they were held hostage – where they waited to die – where they texted their families messages of love – and my heart splinters into irreparable pieces.
I’m angry. I’m furious that this atrocity of a thing happened in my backyard. But more than that I’m angry that it happened in one of the environments I’m the happiest. When I dance and drink in clubs with lights illuminating a concoction of faces and sweat sticking to my skin I feel the most like me. I feel free, confident and dare I say, joyful. And to think that in a moment like that, in seconds of pure free existence, lives that loved those moments the same way I do were taken is unfathomable to me.
God, then I focus on how brave they were. They had the courage to be themselves and to love who they wanted to love. Beyond that they were in a place that accepted them completely. And when I think of how their lives were taken, in the most cowardly way, in a place where they were brave and felt at home, I can’t breathe.
I can’t accept it. I can’t know that you can be killed for being courageous enough to be fully you – because if courage, honesty and love is met with death, how am I supposed to believe in a good world?