Where were you?
Honestly? I thought it was a typo, several of them. It wouldn’t be the first time. I had the app for this foreign newspaper on my phone and it was those notifications from half way across the world that alerted me to tragedy less than eight miles from my doorstep.
Ironically, there had been a shooting in Orlando the previous night. And while any loss of life is heartbreaking, two people had lost their lives in that confrontation so the alert calling it a ‘mass shooting’ seemed sensational to me. And that the Times of India (sorry TOI) had called the Plaza (where the first shooting occurred) “Pulse” seemed like another fact-checking oversight.
Then I started reading.
It was like a few other times in my life, when my brain simply couldn’t reconcile the words I was reading. Finding out about the loss of 49, FORTY-NINE people (Were they neighbors? Friends? Did we work with them?) comes at you faster than your heart can receive it.
We turned on the news, slack-jawed by the freshness of the loss.
Who are their parents? Who’s just finding out? Who loves them? What can we do? What terror and continued heartache for those who lived through it!
By far, the most tangible and painful piece of news was when the police officers who first responded to the nightclub reported that phones were ringing all over the building, on the other end desperate friends and family willing those phones to be answered by the one who they were calling. I still weep when I consider the depth of that anxiety.
I left to go out of the country four days later. The flags at O’Hare were flying at half-staff. When I got to Kolkata, there was a card at the US Consulate where people could express their condolences to the people of Orlando. That’s me. You. My neighbors. My friends. My community.
So when we say Orlando Strong, we’re hopeful. We still mourn and grieve.
And we keep trying to make our community better. Please join our efforts by ordering on the website, for yourself and for a friend. Every June, we will commit the profit from online sales to a local organization, Zebra Coalition. They do great work with youth in our community. We all have a part to play. What’s your role?