Where do you begin when you think about Orlando?
For me it is the place I had an awful blind date, attended many bachelorette parties (including my own), auditioned to be a cast member on the new Mickey Mouse Club, and sat in the audience to watch a taping of the new Mickey Mouse Club, staring kids who were actually cast. It’s the city where I spent many weekends driving around to outlet malls, water parks, and sports bars.
I’ve attended weddings in Orlando, been in a car accident in Orlando, and driven a car full of drunk people home at 3am when I was eight months pregnant in Orlando. But now, Orlando is heavy. It’s not just my memories, but the place where 49 innocent people danced their last dance, and countless others experienced a horror I can not fathom.
As the reality of what happened this weekend starts to settle in, I do what I always do when I feel overwhelmed: read. I start searching for clarity and wisdom — sifting through the senselessness in hope of finding some sense. Yes, at times this can be futile (as there is no sense in this matter) but as I read through articles and Facebook posts, I realize that what I am really searching for is hope. And the more I read, the more rays of hope start to shine through the cracks in our hearts.
I’ve lost count of how many time I have read the word “heartbroken” today. This seems to be the overriding sentiment, because indeed, our hearts have been broken. But what I notice as I read post after post is,
our hearts may be broken, but we are not.
Throughout the day it has become clear to me that behind everyone’s words is the same battle cry: we are sad, but we are fed up. It’s time to DO something, SAY something, and BE someone who will not sit idly by while atrocities such as Pulse nightclub occur. Not just make a post in the wake of tragedy, but really toss ourselves into the arena and get our hands dirty with some change making — because the less we do, the more we forget. And forgetting may be the biggest tragedy of all.
Because that happens, you know. I’ll admit it has happened to me. Almost one year ago, innocent Marines lost their lives to a shooter in Chattanooga, and only weeks later, I forgot. It hit me as my family made our annual summer drive from Tennessee to Florida; when we rounded a curve on I-24, I spied a simple billboard that read, “Chattanooga Strong,” and I silently cried in the passenger seat. It had only been a matter of weeks and I had already forgotten. I was devastated by my own apathy and I can’t let it happen again.
To be honest, I don’t know where I fit in when it comes to solutions. All I know is that doing nothing is no longer an option. I’m vowing to figure out where my hands can be useful, where my skills can be of service, and to raise my children to love and respect all humans. And I believe there are many who will join me.
Our hearts may be broken, but we are not.