the words are gone

On the evening of June 11 2016, I fell asleep beside the love of my life. I met this person three years ago. I read a blog. The words were raw and beautiful and haunting, and I would irrevocably fall in love with the author.

On the morning of June 12 2016, I awoke to the sight of the love of my life stroking my hair. I could see unshed tears and a sorrow that I knew I’d never be able to dispel for the rest of our lives.

Before saying anything, I was warned in a choked voice: “Don’t look at the internet.”

But the first thing you do when told not to look down from a great height is to look down.

I looked down.

Forty-nine. Dead. Somewhere in Orlando. Forty-nine. 49. That’s a football team. 49. That’s an odd number. Forty-nine. That’s three syllables. Four. Tee. Nine. Dead. Dead is only one syllable. Like a drum beat. But it’s a drum beat that’s been stopped.

I only had the number. And then I was told the location of the slaughter: a queer-friendly club.

I rolled over to my side and looked at the slivers of sunlight through the blinds. “I need to garden today,” I said in a monotone.

“Okay.”

I have a vagina. The love of my life happens to have a vagina.

To some, I am sick. I am a violation of nature. I am damned. I am misinformed. I am going through a phase. I am confused. I am experimenting. I am purposefully behaving radically.

My three-year-old nephew recently whispered to his grandmother that I loved my girlfriend, and that we were going to get married. And then he smiled. To my nephew, I am not a label. I am simply alive.

People have beliefs. I have beliefs. There are differences in everything, from the number of white blood cells in a body, to marijuana legislation, to brand name vs store brand, to right-handed and left-handed. Life is a product of differences.

So technically, it doesn’t really matter if you believe that what happened in Orlando was right or wrong. What I believe about it doesn’t matter either. Because at the end of the day, forty-nine people stopped existing. Because of one man, the lives of forty-nine people stopped. Just, stopped. Those are the cards on the table. Except they aren’t cards but lives, and the table is a scuffed nightclub floor.

On the evening of June 12 2016, my girlfriend fell asleep before I did. I listened to her steady breathing, kissed the bare skin of her shoulder, and quietly sobbed against her back. For the love that I felt for her. For the rightness of it to me, to her. For the forty-nine people who won’t ever fall asleep again because they’re asleep forever now.

Be on whatever soapbox you want. Pontificate or garner votes or condemn with whatever god’s lightning bolt. But for the sake of sake…have some fucking goddamn respect for the dead.

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