The news out of Orlando this past weekend has me a bit shaken. When I woke up Sunday morning, the headlines of 23 people dead at a gay club made me think I was still dreaming. By 12:30pm, the number dead had doubled, and I still couldn’t believe this nightmare was real. Now headline after headline states it was “the worst mass shooting in American history.”
Ben and I spent hours reading stories online, dissecting posts on Facebook and Twitter, and watching press conferences on TV. Tragedies like this always remind me of how quickly life can change. The men and women in Pulse had no idea June 11th was the last day that they would see their friends and family. Yet in an instant, spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. all had their lives change due to one man.
I grieve for all of those lost – the couple that hoped to get married, the cancer survivor who died protecting her son, and the students that were just out looking for a good time. I grieve for them just as I did the students at Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary, the church members in Charleston, S.C., the soldiers in Fort Hood, and the many more that have lost their lives due to gun violence and hatred.
This one hits close to home because I’ve taken particular joy in the gains that the GLBTQ community has made recently. But in the midst of the month when we are supposed to be most prideful, we get a harsh reminder that hate still exists in the world, and we have a ways to go.
This fear of the unknown – the fact that your life can dramatically change at any time – motivates me to do the work that I do. One of my money mantras is to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Thinking about the worst isn’t fun, and you will never be fully prepared for tragedies like these. Having been through several significant losses myself, I can attest to how difficult it can be. But hopefully being able to put money worries aside will make coping easier.
If there is a silver lining to events like this, it’s the coming together of our people – the stories of perseverance through the tragedy, understanding that we are all in this together, and gratitude for all of those throughout history who have sacrificed so much so that we can continue to move forward.
Fear and hate will not conquer us. Our pride will endure.