Only this afternoon did Orlando authorities make an I.D. on the 49th victim at The Pulse. It took two days. Think about that.
I’m imagining family members calling and getting called. Good news. Bad news. But now, at least, we know.
Think of the mother of a gay son. Her biggest fears: he might be bullied. He might be lonely. AIDS. But maybe things would work out. She was secretly proud he trusted her enough to tell her. Not this, never this.
Think of a father. He had a child come out to him, and he didn’t take it well. He lived with the guilt of having been aloof, or worse. But there was going to be a talk. Necessary things would be said. He often thought about how he’d bring it up, what he’d say, how he and a child who once slept on his chest on the sofa would hug and come to an understanding. There was time. Now there isn’t.
Or consider a young person who went out for the night. He might be gay. Or she might be straight. The gay clubs are more fun, or the music’s better. It’s Saturday night in Orlando, Florida. Wish you were here.
They say all you could hear for hours afterwards were cellphones ringing, unanswered. It’s an image that says a lot.
Before anything else, before gun control, before terrorism, before Clinton or Trump, this is what happened. What is happening. If you have the luxury of taking it to a current events discussion, give thanks. Someone just like you is picking out a coffin, or trying to decide which dress she’d want to be buried in, or working up the courage to approach a surviving partner who’s a stranger in all but grief.
If all you have to decide is who to vote for, you have it good.
This is what’s real: on a Sunday, when they are always closed, a Chick Fil A in Orlando opened, turned on the grills, and made sandwiches and plates for people donating blood, and cops who were sweating from more than just the heat.
And this is how we will, somehow, be OK. And why terror and hate will lose.
This is why we win.