When tragedies like Orlando strike the world, processing how to feel becomes part of the struggle of your day. At least for me it has. In the last 72 hours, I’ve experienced a full range of emotions. Pride in a community that is showing an outpouring of support amidst the chaos. Anger – at the senseless violence, at politicians, at the ease in which people have access to assault rifles, and even anger when I look in the mirror for allowing myself to focus on the hate. Sadness, for obvious reasons. Fear, confusion, annoyance. But also hopefulness, love, reassurance, encouragement.
Subtle reminders of this unwarranted, hateful act surround me – living in the same city as the Equality House, pictures of my LGBTQ+ friends, the medal I received from a Rainbow Run 5K I ran during Indy Pride last year. I wish I could say I’ve been able to develop some idea of what to think, or what to say, or how to make sense of it. But I haven’t.
There’s no magic answer, no magic cure, that will suddenly enable us to feel 100% safe again. Nothing that will make the word, “Orlando” be synonymous with Disney World only. But remembering…that can make a difference. Not only remembering the victims, not only remembering the first responders, the friends, the families. But rather remembering that we are all in a country that celebrates each other. We celebrate the right to love who we want, to worship where we want, to pee where we want. To pick Team Chipotle or Team Qdoba. Team Harry Potter or Team Lord of the Rings. We have the choice to be ourselves, but when we forget that choice is where we falter. Forgetting love, forgetting celebrating each other – is to forget ourselves.
So remember. Remember that best friend from elementary school that you never talk to anymore. Remember that annoying coworker. Remember that quirky neighbor. Remember Paris…and Sandy Hook…and Orlando. Remember the victims and the survivors. Because to remember them is to remember ourselves. When we remember we celebrate…we choose…and we love. We love each other through it.