It first happened last June. We were driving into Charleston, South Carolina, passing an old, beautiful church with its sidewalk strewn with dying flowers. It hit us, "This is where Dylan Root murdered nine people because they were black".
Last Friday we drove to Orlando for a wedding. Approaching downtown on Orange Street we saw flowers for the dead again along with fading posters, banners, and notes of remembrance. It was Pulse, the nightclub where Omar Mateen killed 49 people because they were gay. The June 12, 2016 massacre was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
The place isn't that big, it must have been packed that night. On a main drag among other small businesses, the former nightclub is now surrounded by a plywood memorial wall.
Everyday people come to pay their respects, pray,and look for answers in troubling times. Here are some things I saw yesterday morning,
Last weekend the mural below was painted on a bagel shop across the street.
After the shootings a local newspaper started a weekly series profiling of each of the 49 victims. This week it described Juan Carlos Nieves' life cut short in his 27th year.
The series will continue for six more months.
It doesn't help to know we just elected a President and Vice-President who support the proliferation of guns and anti-gay sentiments. We have to deal with this and take positive actions.
Saddened by our country's new direction we look to the future and wonder how to cope.
When Mateen killed and wounded over a hundred people at Pulse, the City of Orlando rose magnificently to the occasion.
They provided counseling for thousands,free medical care for the wounded,and offered funeral services and burial plots for the dead.
A funding campaign, "OneOrlando", has raised over $23 million to aid victims and their families.
The city's response was something we can learn from. When bad things happen we need to stick together, slog on, and right what's wrong.
AND THEN WE WENT TO THE WEDDING
Life goes on and so did the Alex and Will's wedding. We put Pulse on hold long enough to celebrated their union.
We had never visited Orlando before. The downtown area is quite remarkable,filled with lakes and glistening new buildings. On Sunday morning we visited their farmers market on the east side of Lake Eola.
Every time we enjoy a place like this I think, "Why can't Coconut Grove have this? We're on Biscayne Bay but visitors can barely see it. We've got a farmer's market in a funky field filled with rocks and dust.
It would be so easy to do better." While fighting the hate that the President elect spews let's be fighting for our local community too.
Francesca and I never expected to find so many good things in Orlando. The city is so much more than garish theme parks.
We stayed in a beautiful AirBnB apartment. Here was our morning breakfast view. Our hosts even offered us a canoe to explore the lake.
The pool was warm and the bubbly hot spa had us exhaling, "Ahhh..." with delight.
The neighborhood was filled with lovely old houses surrounded by moss-draped oaks. All this less than a mile from Orlando's towering downtown.
Enjoying our weekend apartment with hosts, Tom and Gordy.
Every other block seemed to face a swan-filled lake. Watching them gracefully glide by took us to a temporary world filled with peace, beauty, and love.
We could all use more of that.