For as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten text and email alerts from various news outlets. In the beginning, I signed up for them so that I was aware of any breaking news regarding war and such since my sister was military. Once she was out of the military, I still wanted to know what was going on near and far so I signed up with even more outlets.
Yesterday morning, one of the first alerts I received stated “several shot at nightclub in Orlando”. My initial reaction was, “here we go again”. I never discount any loss merely because the number is small, but I wasn’t prepared when I actually checked news and saw the initial reports that said 20 had been killed. As usual, I headed to Twitter and Facebook, and both were lit up. While the majority of tweets and posts were filled with overwhelming concern, love, and support, there were some that made me sick to my stomach. People can be cruel.
I’ve seen people turn the tragedy into a political thing. I’ve seen posts that underscore people’s views gun control more than their expressions of sympathy for the victims and their families. I’ve seen “religious” folks post things that allude to the fact that the victims reaped what they sowed. I’ve seen homophobes tweet that no one cares. That actually brings tears to my eyes. It hurts my very soul.
I have a son. No, he’s not gay, but I have a son. My son has many, many friends. You see, what I identified with was the fact that there were tons of young men in that club around my son’s age. Eddie Justice was texting his mom while he was hiding in the bathroom. He knew he was going to die. I can literally feel his fear. More than that, I can feel his mother’s terror. I can’t help but put myself in her shoes. I never, ever turn my phone off. I do not use the “do not disturb” feature because I always fear that my son my get in trouble and the call or text won’t reach me. Unfortunately, I know several parents who turn their phones off at night. How? Why? My baby may need me.
On the one hand, many of us have become immune. Then there are the ones of us who are more or less numb to these shootings. It seems that we hear of a shooting nearly every day. Every single day. I knew the families of some of the children who were killed at Columbine. The Aurora, CO movie theater where so many lost their lives? That was the theater I took Will to many, many time when we lived in the Denver area. The hospital where most of the victims were taken that night? That’s where I gave birth to my son. A very close friend of mine said that her daughter and her boyfriend had changed their minds about going to that particular theater at the last minute in favor of going to one that would have been less crowded.
Where is it safe to go these days? Not the mall, not the movies. We can’t even send our children to school anymore without that underlying fear of tragedy. There is so much blatant hatred in this world. Hatred for different races, hatred for different genders, hatred for different religions, hatred for different sexual orientations. It needs to stop. It just needs to stop.
I will continue to pray for those who lost their lives Sunday morning. I will continue to pray for those who’ve lost their lives in previous acts of horror. I will always, always, always pray for the families and friends of those people. My heart will always bleed for them.