The music shut off and security was herding everyone out. It was closing time downtown at Wall Street. My girlfriends and I said our goodbyes after a carefree night of dancing in honor of the upcoming marriage of two dear friends. We were celebrating love. I got in my car and drove home to my husband who I awoke from his sleep on the couch. After a brief rundown on the evening’s shenanigans, we said “I love you” and went to sleep.
I woke up Sunday morning to messages on my phone. Social media asking me to mark myself as safe, emails and texts asking for a response, phone calls from love ones afar needing reassurance. The revelation of what happened hit. Just 1.5 miles away from where we were that night and early morning, at the same time, tragedy struck. Hatred and fear struck. What can be said that has not already? Our hearts ache to comprehend how yet another mass shooting against our own brothers and sisters could be happening, in our city or in any city. Our souls are weeping for those who did not get to say goodbye or I love you. For those whose carefree night was taken from them. For those who do not get to hear the voice on the other end of the line saying, “I’m alive.”
As I continued to read the news and social media keeping abreast of details pertaining to the tragedy, one thing is certain. United we stand. Members of the community finding ways to help and colleagues running out to provide support and counseling until all hours of the night. FAMFT’s own president-elect slept in a mobile unit after providing hours of service in the community until past 11:00 PM, only to awake and continue. A document circulating with over 450 (at that moment) names and contact information of mental health professionals, including our best local MFTs, offering free services to anyone in need. At my place of employment, practitioners volunteered in droves to provide 24 hour crisis and grief counseling anywhere that was needed both in the community and to fellow staff. This is a mere glimpse at the solidarity that has sprung.
While I reflect on the pain and tears fill my eyes at how this atrocious act could even come to fruition, I think of Dr. Viktor Frankl: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” It is clear that despite what others try to inflict upon us and the temptation to turn against each other, our community, a symbol of diversity, has made a choice. “I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart. The salvation of man is through love and in love.” Well said Dr. Frankl. We are Orlando Strong and we choose to continue celebrating Love.
The Center, serving the LGBTQ community, is open and offering grief counseling in English and Spanish. It is located at 945 N. Mills Ave. in Orlando. You also can call its hotline at 407-228-1446 or text your zip code to 898-211 to connect.
Heart of Florida United Way has a 24-7 crisis line at 2-1-1, and the Victim Service Center of Central Florida has a hotline at 407-497-6701. UCF students can receive free counseling on campus at Counseling and Psychological Services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact the office at 407-823-2811.
Melissa Tran is a LMFT who has worked at the Orlando VA for five years. She serves on the FAMFT board and is the contributor for the FAMFT Twitter and Facebook. She is recently married.