He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars and names each one.
Our Lord is great and very powerful.
There is no limit to what he knows.
Psalm 147:3-5 

Orlando

Last weekend I went to Orland with a group of Boston survivors. We met with some of the survivors from the PULSE shooting, hoping to share with them our experiences  also bring hope, sharing how we got through the hard times.

We met with different groups of survivors. One just talked in circles. Mixed childhood stories and stories from yesterday. I didn’t know what to say to him, so I just listened. Maybe that’s all I needed to do.

There was a man who watched as 11 of his close friends were killed. The pain and hurt filled his eyes and spilled over onto his entire being. He was sad that he couldn’t do anything to save them. Sad that he alone remains.

Others only spoke only spanish. So we did a lot of sitting and listening. We had very few translators so that made it difficult. But we watched as survivors were connecting with each other, coming together to offer each other support. They didn’t know each other at the club. So they told their stories, where they hid, how they got out, where they were injured. So much like us three years ago.

War stories and battle wounds.

We had brunch at a family’s house. An amazing Colombian breakfast. Cheese Almojabana, bunuelos, arepas with chorizo, fluffy pancakes, fresh squeezed orange juice… We gathered in the sun room that held a long table. All 19 of us fit comfortably and had a long meal where we discussed the bombing, the shooting… tragedies that brought us together.

What they are looking for is hope. They are looking for someone to say, you’re not alone in this suffering. These things you are feeling. The fear, the flashbacks, the nightmares, that’s all normal. Because we had them too. And they need to hear that they won’t always feel that way. Those things will fade. They need to know that the hell they are living in isn’t forever. That they will slowly get back to normal. And there isn’t a time frame. It takes some a short time. Others, much longer.

Sunday we were in a park next to a pond with a fountain. The city of Orlando in the background. People from the community trickled in. People who had gotten tattoos to show their support for those in the PULSE shootings. Tattoos of love, hope, togetherness. We took photos and heard their stories. Soaked in the Orlando sunshine and the breeze coming across the pond. Willow branches hanging low. Tickeling the edge of the water.

Lifestyle choices were put aside. Language barriers. Cultural differences. What brings  us together is similar experiences. Terror ripping apart lives. And we, being three years past the terror, were there to bring hope to those just surfacing from it. To show them that life does go on. Survival is attainable.

I hope we brought a little hope.  A pin prick of light at the end of the dark tunnel. Knowing that we can bring others hope out of our suffering, gives us hope too. It helps to know that our suffering is not or was not in vain. If through our suffering, we can help others, we gain purpose. And that makes it seem not quite so bad.

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