I’m at a loss this evening. I spent the day trying to come to grips with the mass murder at a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida, early this morning.
Yesterday, only yesterday, with a heavy heart, I wrote about another murder in the same city—Christina Grimmie was assassinated while signing autographs after a concert where she was the opening act.
It was like a prelude, and today was the rest of the symphony. Symphonies aren’t necessarily happy things. This one was very dark, indeed.
Today was strange. Many people I talked to, hadn’t heard about the shooting. I had to tell them. I found out this morning from PBS NewHour on Twitter while reading about gun control. Kind of a follow-up to yesterday’s blog post about Grimmie.
I didn’t have time to write about it this morning—I was preparing to go to my writing group “read out.” There was a piece I wrote during the week that I was planning to read. It was a back story for one the characters in my fantasy novel.
I kind of like that piece and would have liked to have read it today—I’ll probably read it next time. I still was torn, considering the idea of reading the blog post I wrote in response to the Grimmie murder. I wasn’t sure I could read it, without breaking down into the tears that plagued me all morning.
My writers’ group, Writing Practice, has been having their monthly Writers Read Out at the Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle, on Mercer Island. I arrived half an hour early, accidentally. I wasn’t positive what time it started, but didn’t even check before leaving the house. I had to get out of the house.
As I sat, all alone, in a sunny little courtyard, I read my Grimmie story out loud a couple of times—I like to practice before I consider reading something to people. I added some context about it happening only yesterday, a little bit about the Pulse killings, and a quote at the end from the President’s speech this morning.
I was still torn about reading it. While I sat there, a young man came out to chat with me. He asked me if I was part of the reading group—he was Ben, the facilities manager, and probably just making sure I belonged there at the center.
We talked about the massacre, how it made us feel, and I shared my conflicted emotions about reading the Grimmie story. And I couldn’t hold back my tears. He told me, if I felt so strongly, it was something I needed to do. And then he left.
A while later, it was time to go inside. I decided I would read the story.
I’m not sure how or why, but I ended up reading first. I had to start by explaining what happened last night—not everyone had heard yet. I read with a steady voice and no tears. I looked up frequently and made eye-contact with my audience, pausing now and then to let them think about some of the things I said. There were nods from around the room.
The others took their five minutes to read their own stories. One was particularly poignant—about the death camp in, I believe, the former Yugoslavia, where perhaps 700,000 Serbs, Romanis and other ethnic undesirables were killed during WWII. Death on much larger scale.
Afterwards, some of us talked about my story—my words had moved them. One of my peers actually said I should submit my story to the Huffington Post. I don’t know. After the events last night, Grimmie’s story became old news by this morning.
There are forty-nine new names to learn. And one that we should never speak again.
Photo credit: PBS NewsHour
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