My darling grandchildren,
Less than forty-eight hours ago, a man sick in his heart, a heart scarred and torn with hatred, walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with a gun designed to kill dozens, perhaps hundreds of people with just the pull of a trigger. Before the police, likewise armed with guns designed to kill dozens, perhaps hundreds of people with the pull of a trigger, killed the man, who presumably refused to surrender, he had taken the lives of 49 people and wounded 53 more, some of whom may die from their injuries.
Before he fired on the people dancing in the club, the man called the police and told them he chose this action in support of an organization far away, on the other side of the world, whose only aim seems to be to kill and terrorize all living human beings. Born and raised in the United States of America, the man chose to slaughter other US citizens, but not just anybody. He aimed to shatter the lives and families of people who identify as lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender or transsexual or just plain queer (LGBTQ). Lots of people in this country fear, despise and hate LGBTQ people. Some, like that man, act on their fear and hatred. He deliberately chose a club where LGBTQ people go to feel safe while having a good time on Saturday night.
Perhaps we human beings will always live with love in our hearts for some, while carrying the most vile hatred for others. Many believe such hatred is not a natural part of the human condition, or if it is, that we can overcome it and learn to nurture all that is good in ourselves. I believe that, though it is mighty difficult when we see human beings, including many Americans who think of themselves as good people, spouting hateful slogans against gays and lesbians and people of other religions, or inciting people to do bad things, to hurt, even to kill.
That night, the night that man committed his horrible act against humanity, two of you slept in my bed, snug and safe, on a sleepover while your mom and dad enjoyed a date night. Early in the morning, about the time this man committed his horrible act, something woke me. I got up and peeked in on you, making sure both were comfortable and had covers over your shoulders. Adorable lying there, one of you sprawled crazily, the other tucked tidily, like a cocoon.
A few hours later, giggling and chattering, we cooked up a brand new recipe together, whisking eggs and batter, washing and slicing strawberries and mangoes, buttering a loaf pan. You girls worked earnestly, the eldest carefully cutting fruit, still working on those safe-knife skills, the younger learning how to whisk without spilling flour or eggs out the sides of the bowl.
What a joy to share that time with you! How my heart swells with love in those moments, as it did that morning, sunshine streaming through the high kitchen windows, your little voices filling the air with questions and prideful “Look, YayYay! Look what I did!”
So when I sat down for a few minutes, after we put our new fruity bread in the oven, to make notes on the recipe, and discovered the horror that so many mothers and fathers and grandparents and friends and loved ones faced in Orlando that morning, I hardly knew how to respond. My heart nearly exploded with grief. Yet I could not bear to spoil our happy time together. You are too young, at three and eight, to drop everything and have that conversation. Or so I thought then. How could I mar your happiness, perhaps bring a fear into your lives you don’t need to know. Not yet anyway.
One day you will know of monstrous acts such as the one in Orlando. You may, like so many of us, respond with disbelief, grief, with hearts that feel, within your chests, as though they have physically broken, as mine does today.
You may feel, too, the fear and, as many do, hatred–the need to hate someone, to punish someone. That hatred will eat you alive if you let it. Don’t. Find love.
Find love wherever you can–in the face of a flower just opening, in the faces of your parents and grandparents, sisters and cousins. Find it in the face of the one you’re with, or the one you’ve grown to love so much you plan to spend the rest of your lives together.
Sometimes, you may feel as if there is no love. Know this, from one who felt that many times as a young woman: There is always love.
Even when you’re alone, especially when you’re alone (Learn this part!), there is love. Find it in your heart. Find it in your memories. Breathe it into your soul with every breath. Nurture it. If it’s faint, fan it gently, feed it, bring it to roaring, healing life in your body, mind and heart. Let it fuel the soul, fuel creativity, fuel you. Let it hiss and roar and sing.
The soul wants to sing. Let it.
♥ ♥ ♥
About the flag
The rainbow flag has been a symbol of LGBTQ pride and strength since the 1970s. It is a simple design of six colors, just as you see on this page. I added the heart, symbol of love, and colored it black with a gray outline, to signify mourning. The pink lettering recalls the pink triangle, which the Nazis forced people they believed to be gay or lesbian to wear during the killing times. You can learn about the rainbow flag, the pink triangle and other symbols important to LGBTQ people here on Mashable. If you want to help the people of Orlando, and especially the LGBTQ community, go to How to support Orlando nightclub shooting victims on Romper.