On Sunday, June 12th, 2016, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded less than 25 miles from my home. It was a day I’ll never forget. Images and updates flooded the news worldwide and social media for weeks on end. There have been times where I’ve watched movies about mass killings and thought, “Thank God this is just a movie.” This time, it wasn’t a movie. This time I went to work the next morning and learned that one of the wounded was a brother of my co-worker. This time these were real people, if only it were just a movie.
My mother in law had mentioned that she would like to visit one of the memorials set up in downtown Orlando. I wasn’t sure we’d go, but before we knew it we all jumped into the car and a half hour later there we stood. There were flowers, pictures of the victims, balloons, and signs about love and memories. You could cut the pain in the air with a knife. I didn’t know what to tell my children at that moment, so I didn’t say anything. I’m not a very weepy person, but the pain felt drew me to tears as I prayed silently for the families of the victims. I stood among strangers as we looked at the memorial displays and together, we wept.
After a while we all jumped in the car and took the silent road home. We put the kids to bed and I stood there wondering if we had taught them anything from what we just experienced. What was the takeaway? And then I realized as a family, we’ve spent time in celebration with others. We ate the cake, brought the gifts, and raised our cups in cheers and sang “Happy Birthday” at each party. But this time, we mourned. We hurt with those that were hurting, even though we didn’t know any of them. I hope my kids look back on that day and always remember how important it is to value life and share hurt with their fellow neighbor. I hope they always remember that people matter.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Photo Credit: ID 73154576 © Dimaberkut | Dreamstime.com