On June 12, 2016 my husband woke me up to tell me the news of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. My head was swimming in thoughts – “Are all of my friends OK?” “What happened?” “Why would something this awful happen?” Throughout the day I tried to process it. I sat in front of the T.V. and kept listening to them recap what happened and kept watching the death toll rise and kept feeling so much disbelief.
Then I heard it. That phrase I never thought I would hear, especially tied to my town, where I live. “This is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.” As soon as I heard it I knew I never wanted to hear it again. I wanted to take that designation and lock it up. Keep it in Orlando. Not because I wanted us to be known for the shooting. But rather I never wanted anyone else to experience that heartache – that entire body ache – ever again. I wanted to take that designation and ensure it never saw the light of day.
I woke up on October 2, 2017 thinking it would be a normal Monday and just like every day I checked social media on my phone. The first article I saw: mass shooting in Las Vegas. I followed the story closely. I thought about the victims and their families. I thought about the people who were injured, who were fleeing to save their lives, who saw their own friends and family shot in front of them. I thought about the first responders and I thought about the heroes who went back to save others. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to experience this.
Then at some point in the day listening to the news, I heard it again – the designation that “this is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.” I experienced the same anxiety, the same heartache, the same full body ache. This time it was in a completely different state but the feeling was the same.
Las Vegas, I do know one thing: That designation will not define you. What will define you is the response to this tragedy. The people who stood in line for 10+ hours to donate blood. The go fund me’s that have already started. The benefit events local business will hold to raise money. The community coming together to support each other. That is what will define you.
I won’t turn this political and talk about gun control and my personal thoughts and opinions on our current gun policies. What I will say though, is if you believe current policies on guns isn’t the problem, then you are accepting what happened in Las Vegas.
We stand with you Las Vegas. We are here for you. Orlando is here for you. I am here for you. Love is here for you.