I prefer to cry in the shower.
Or at night, after John has gone to sleep.
I’ve never been the type that cries in front of others. Don’t get me wrong, I cry during Disney movies or final episodes of TV shows, but when it really matters, when it’s personal, I cry alone.
The day of the shooting at Pulse changed this. I cry in front of people now because I have so many tears and I have to get them out. They won’t stop coming and I can’t stop them. It started the day of the shootings. The more information that came in, the more friends I talked to who had missing loved ones they still hadn’t heard from, the more the tears started to fall.
Eventually I found myself openly sobbing in John’s arms in the middle of our living room.
It has continued the days after the shooting. Close friends have received the news they were hoping not to hear. I try to say the right thing, the comforting thing, but I’m afraid I don’t have the answers this time. I have sorrow, I have disbelief, I have anger, and I have tears.
After a week of helping, volunteering, and consoling, during breaks from crying, I went to Downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola. I stood with over 50,000 people to mourn the deaths of those stolen from us at Pulse, celebrate their lives, and vowed to work towards a future where tragedies like this don’t happen.
As I stood with my city, I saw people in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Upon entering the event I was offered water, flowers, food, and more from volunteers from every religious background. Everyone stood together regardless of race, religion, color, gender, or sexual orientation.
Before the moving speeches and heartfelt performances took place, I looked up at the sky and saw part of a bright and vivid rainbow. Many others around me noticed it at the same time and clapping and cheers erupted from around the entire lake. Almost as if we had encouraged it, the rainbow started to grow. The louder our cheering, the further it went. My hand flew up to cover my open mouth and tears fell down my face as I watched the rainbow grow.
I had never felt more at home.
What followed were wonderful speeches from our city leaders, beautiful performances from some of our talented citizens, and a candlelight vigil that renewed my faith in humanity.
After the vigil, we walked around the entire lake to pay our respects at different memorials, hug old friends, meet new friends, and celebrate the lives of those who were lost in the City Beautiful. It’s important to remember that 50,000 people who love are much greater than 1 who hates. I am not great at math but I know that much. And that is all the motivation I need to keep these tears at bay and continue fighting for a brighter tomorrow.