I was clearing the table from dinner when it started. The news broadcast showed the 49 victims from the shooting in Orlando in alphabetical order of the last names along with photos and ages. There I was–standing in my dining room, holding plates with remnants of pasta and chicken while tears streamed down my face. I prayed for each one as I looked into the eyes in the pictures and read the names. I do this every time.
Did you catch that? I said that I do this every time. Every. Single. Time. It is important to me that the victims be remembered. I have to take the time to see those faces, to read their stories, to know –even a little bit–about who they were. As always, they could be any of us. Why does there always seem to be another time?
I pause to pray for the families and friends who are dealing with a loss that I cannot begin to comprehend. I pray for the police and emergency personnel who have visions in their heads that will probably never leave them. I offer prayers to the hospital staff for the skills and knowledge to help the wounded recover physically and emotionally.
It’s important, but I don’t want to pray like this anymore. I don’t want to hear about one more random act of terror. I don’t want one more family to lose a brother, sister, mother, or father in this way. I don’t want my children and students to grow fearful of the world. I know that there are more good people than bad. Just look at the ways people reach out to help-every single time.
It’s way overdue for something to be done, though. I have no solutions to offer. I wish that I did. This isn’t my area of expertise, for sure. I do know that it isn’t about one political party or another. That argument makes it seem too easy. It’s not easy; far from it. But, as compassionate humans sharing this world, something’s gotta give. If not now, when? If not this act, what will it take?
If only I had some eloquent words of wisdom, but I’m at a loss. I’ll close with a portion of this sonnet written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which reads:
“We rise and fall and light from dying embers,
remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is
love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story.
Now fill the world with music, love and pride”