Mural and picture by Andrea Manica | @andreamanica
I struggle to comprehend that because of the way people love, they are no longer in this world.
Ambulance sirens, police car lights, crime scene tape, the injured being carried out by others — all things I saw on the news that early morning of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, played over and over again. It has now left a scar in my heart and has since had a major impact on my life. I was raised and have lived in Orlando, Florida, my whole life. When we see these attacks on mankind, but in different states or countries we often think, “that is so sad,” or “my heart aches for them,” or “I will keep them in my prayers”.
I had never pondered what I would do if these senseless acts happened in my city. How would you feel? Would you feel confused? With gruesome acts like this happening all throughout the world, how did we not see this coming? The LGBT community has been through enough already; being bullied for being themselves or not being able to go out in public because of comments bypassers may have, but this massacre was as saddening and disheartening as the shattered dreams of those who have dreamt of coming out for years but are too afraid to do that now.
It’s all still a blur to me, but I found myself praying every night in hopes that everyone was safe. I still feel quite numb, in all honesty. I can’t wrap my head around it nor can I get my mind to believe that this massacre actually happened in my hometown. It was an unimaginable moment that the innocent had no idea of.
Forty-nine people, gone. Just like that.
The tragedy was enough to scare us all — locals and people all over the world. With that being said, I want people to understand that this massacre did not ruin Orlando or the people. It did not ruin my faith in the people, and rather, it made us all stronger. The vigils that were held in honour of the victims, the gifts and support, the grieving received from others, and the love everyone felt, is something that will be remembered time and again.
I struggle to comprehend why innocent people had to lose their lives and why it happened in such a gruesome way.
I struggle to comprehend that the victims and survivors looked to the Pulse Nightclub as their safe-haven, but were stripped away from enjoying it. No one had an ounce of knowing what would happen that night. I struggle to comprehend that because of the way people love, they are no longer in this world.
I’ve watched videos of the brave survivors replay their horrific experience and speak to the public. I’ve read articles regarding witnesses looking in horror from afar. I’ve analyzed this shooting in my own way, but I still don’t understand it. Understanding this massacre is to understand something devilish and inhuman, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to know what the victims were thinking in their minds before they were shot to death because the image itself will never leave my head.
I don’t want to understand why a person would think it’s okay to shoot forty-nine people because of who they love — because to me and to most people, that’s not okay. Also just to note, most of the victims in that nightclub were Latino as well as the survivors. It was Latin night at Pulse (not to mention a night during Pride Week) and everyone was looking to have a good time. We lost a wonderful abundance of mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, and fathers. I can only hope those who have lost a loved one are coping well.
Love always conquers hate. Let’s choose to fight with peace and love.