June 12, 2016 marked the darkest day on record for Orlando. And nobody I know is okay. But the community remains determined to poke holes in the dark cloud for rays of light. I’m awed by this.
For me walking the memorials is still super painful. I can’t lie about that. Watching little children sign posters and letters to the innocent victims who should be on the streets right now along side us is not okay. Little children shouldn’t have to live through times like these. I didn’t. It’s not fair. I got to be a child without knowing this kind of thing could possibly exist. But they can’t avoid knowing. It isn’t fair.
Seeing photos of the victims who are so bright faced and vibrant sitting amidst flowers that are dead and gone just like them infuriates me. The dead flowers have become emblematic to me and trigger tears each time I see them.
My dad’s funeral was one week before the massacre. I was still very raw from the pain. Seeing the families right here in my neighborhood suffering the same pain — but worse — was overwhelming to me. Mothers burying children? No. This is not the natural order. My father suffered for a long time. We knew we would have to say good bye. His body could no longer function properly. He did not die at the hands of a hateful man. I could not reconcile these families’ pain. Their loved ones should not be gone. Yet there they were, convening at the senior center on my block — with memorials growing up all around. Not okay. Not at all.
But the love of this community….
it does not end.
The angels appear at memorials, churches, vigils and events. You’ve seen them on TV. You’ve seen them on social media. I know them. These people are resolute to love and not hate. They are affecting change. And they are melting some of my anger. They are special.
A man shows up several times a day at the Dr. Phillips Center memorial site to allow people to release white doves.
Mayor Dyer promises a permanent memorial to the victims in Orlando. They will never be forgotten.
Signs inform us that all of the gifts and posters will be saved and curated for future display.
People are singing. Money is being raised. Survivors are being cared for.
Even the dead flowers will be composted into soil for the beautiful gardens all around Orlando.
I’m still reluctant to admit that anything good can come from a tragedy like this, but thank you Orlando and our LGBTQ community for providing such a perfect blueprint for healing. I love you.