The Forgotten Children Killed in the Pulse Shooting

Eyes of a Child

49 children were murdered in a night club in Orlando.

49 sons and daughters, carried in the swollen bellies of mothers who waited breathlessly for them to arrive.

49 nurseries prepared with brightly colored walls and soft, and furry animals just waiting to welcome them home.

49 smooth, helpless, perfect bundles, cradled in the crook of the arms of proud, nervous parents and loving siblings and beaming grandparents.

49 middle of the night cries, rushed to by sleepless caregivers whose very voices quieted the fear.

49 sweet-smelling heads with swirls of fuzzy hair spirals.

49 pairs of doughy hands, pulling themselves up onto end tables, and one moment pushing away and reaching toward outstretched arms.

49 pairs of wobbly legs begin to find their strength.

49 first words, greeted with wild exuberance by tearful, applauding witnesses.

49 first days of school, with new lunch boxes and butterflied tummies and dreams of what will be.

49 gloriously off-key first grade recitals.

49 paper mache volcanos.

49 early morning snuggles. 

49 toothless, jack-o-lantern smiles.

49 wide-eyed mortals realizing they are superheroes.

49 fearless boys and girls bounding and skipping and jumping through the woods and on top of beds and off of staircases. 

49 scraped knees and stitched chins and broken arms and 2AM emergency room visits.

49 first loves and pimpled cheeks and awkward moments and fender benders.

49 middle school meltdowns.

49 high school crises.

49 children finding their gifts and passions and calling, all pushing them toward purpose.

49 young men and women, navigating the worries, joys, and wounds of finding their own place in the world.

49 souls just beginning to find their voices.

49 people loving and being loved.

49 laughing, dancing, embracing bodies—silenced in a second.

49 hearts, ceasing to beat.

49 family members waiting in helpless, prayerful, panic.

49 cell phones ringing incessantly, never to be answered again.

49 children were murdered in a night club in Orlando.

49 children’s parents are grieving.

49 children’s siblings and friends and lovers and spouses and children are planning funerals.

49 children’s stories were horribly interrupted.

Not statistics, not people groups, not causes or culture war symbols, not illustrations or examples or stereotypes or case studies.


Someone’s children.

As treasured as your own.

As treasured as you are to another.

Flesh, blood, and bone.

Souls and dreams and crooked smiles.  

Children whose deaths should shake and infuriate and grieve us fully.

Children whose loss is as senseless and tragic as any we an experience.

If we can’t see this or we choose to overlook it or succeed in forgetting it, it will be our fault when more children die.

49 LGBTQ children were murdered in a nightclub in Orlando.

49 children were born.

49 children lived.

49 children were loved.

49 children deserve to be treasured.

49 children deserve to be remembered.

49 children deserve that we all do better.


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142 thoughts on “The Forgotten Children Killed in the Pulse Shooting

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Very well stated, children are precious no matter what their ages. My heart goes out to every one of the families. Such a senseless act. Love and prayers go out to all the victims that were lost and the victims that somehow made it through and all of their families.

  2. Sorry but perhaps instead of a picture of a Caucasian child used the picture in the article should reflect the ethnicity of the people who lost their lives. Which was indigenous, Latina among some.

    It might not seem like a big deal but who they are matter. And an article written about them should reflect who they are.

  3. Actually, it was 50. The shooter’s parents experienced all of those things too and I can only imagine how they feel. He was their child too, and at some point and somehow things went terribly, terribly wrong with him. But I do believe that kids don’t start out that way. I wonder what it is that makes that switch flip. I wonder what, as a society, we can do to prevent that from happening. And how we can better support parents dealing with mental illness in a child. I don’t know very much about this shooter (and sadly we must specify “which” mass shooter as there are now so many) but I have read and seen interviews of other parents and their heartache is devastating.

  4. I think we are losing sight of an important fact about these shootings in Orlando. Just like the shootings in Chattanooga at the armed forces recruiting center, this guy Omar was known to be mentally ill—bipolar disorder. Islamic radicalization or not, mental illness had to have been a major factor in what occurred in Orlando. The courage, if you can call it that, for doing something this outrageous had to have happened when this guy was on a bipolar extreme high. We can Islamic this and did not have the fundie Jesus that all day long, but none of that changes the fact that this guy was sick. More and more we are finding that these shooters have mental illness problems—like that little guy that shot up the elementary school in New England.

  5. Words from my son

    To every straight person that watched in horror at Paris but could easily move on about your day to what happened in Orlando.
    We hear your silence

    To every straight girl that has partied in our bars because it made them feel safe but is now quiet when its shown we can’t even be safe in OUR bars.
    We hear your silence.

    I wonder…
    If the next time you meet us in our bars and within a few minutes call us your “new gay best friend” it will also cross your mind…that this “gay” best friend spent their whole childhood thinking they were going to Hell.

    And I wonder
    the next time you see us in a store and ask us to dress you and make you look
    “fabulous” if you’ll think about the fear we have knowing that what outfit we chose to wear can get us killed where we go

    Or maybe just maybe when you call us to talk about your boy problems it may cross your mind that many of us still pause before holding a loved ones hand in public

    Or maybe you would second guess celebrating your bachelorette party at our bars when only a year ago we were finally allowed to get married ourselves and are still battling to have that stay accepted

    Almost every gay person you meet will have experienced unspeakable hate and fear in their lifetime, from the earliest years of childhood on.

    We are not an object
    We are not an accessory
    We are NOT your GAY-BEST FRIEND.
    We are a BEST. FRIEND.
    We are humans

    We are in pain
    We need support
    Support from true straight allies who treat us the way we’ve been fighting years to be treated as..
    the same as you.

    So to every straight ally, that has spoken up and will speak up. Thank you.
    To every straight ally that has been there since the beginning. Thank you.
    To the straight allies that protected us growing up (not because it was trendy or cool but because they saw injustice). Thank you.
    To the straight allies that know they will never understand this pain but make sure to say SOMETHING rather than NOTHING…
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    We hear those prayers over all the silence.

  6. Beautiful words. We live in a very difficult world. These parents were not prepared for letting go of their children this way or any other tragic way. I’m so deeply sorry for their lost.

  7. Please don’t twist the knife in our hearts here in Orlando. We’ve had a rough week with the shooting of a young, beautiful singer, the loss of 49 and counting in the night club shooting and today a two year old child grabbed by a gator.

  8. This post just went out in left field. Let’s focus the “focus” of the message! The children…it’s about someone’s child who lost their life! The children!!!!!!

  9. This is one of the most beautiful – and heartbreaking – piece I have read. My hero, Janusz Korczak, said, “Children are not people of tomorrow. No! They are people here, today.” (The quote is a translation.) Behind this sentiment is that we must not forget that we, adults, must remember that the child is still within us. Your poetry expresses this beautifully.

  10. Pingback: During Pride Month, a Very Unhappy Anniversary. – Janusz Korczak – Pediatrician, Writer, Educator, Orphanage Director, and Children's Advocate

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