Mom taught me that there is time for every matter under heaven – and that time is usually between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. That is to say, she considered it improper, or at least impolite, to call someone on the phone before 8 in the morning or after 9 in the evening. For the most part, I have tried to abide by those restrictions.
But at 6:31 a.m. (on Sunday no less!), I picked up my cell phone and reached out to Debi, my older sister, and asked if everyone was all right. You see, she lives in Orlando, Florida, and just hours earlier, her adopted city had borne witness to one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Debi has lived in Orlando since she graduated high school back in the 70’s. Now that I think about it, I don’t know exactly why she re-located from Long Island – except maybe because the weather in “The City Beautiful” is mostly gorgeous, the people are generally lovely, and there is no state income tax.
After all, that’s why I moved to Orlando! Plus, my big sis was there. Which meant that I could crash on her couch while I looked for an apartment, a roommate, and a job.
Well, in no time at all, I managed to find a skeevy apartment (the community pool had several abandoned, three-wheeled shopping carts in it), a roommate named “Reb” (who, it turned out, was a Holocaust survivor), and a job washing dishes and tending bar…at a nightclub in Orlando.
“…at a nightclub in Orlando”. Sigh.
How many times have we heard that phrase this week?
And how many times have towns and cities in this country and around the world suddenly and tragically become synonymous with deadly violence (Tel Aviv, Paris, Brussels, Boston, New York, San Bernardino, Charleston, Aurora, Columbine, Newtown, et al)?
And how many times have we attended hastily-called vigils in our churches, praying for a peace that the world cannot give?
And how many times have we mournfully and respectfully heard the reading of the names of those who perished (Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Antonio Davon Brown, Darryl Roman Burt II, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Luis Daniel Conde, Cory James Connell, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Paul Terrell Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Kimberly Morris, Akyra Monet Murray, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Enrique L. Rios, Jr., Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Shane Evan Tomlinson, Martin Benitez Torres, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis S. Vielma, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Jerald Arthur Wright)?
And how many times will Congress pause for a “Moment of Silence”, only to return to business-as-usual 61 seconds later?
And how many times must the cannon balls fly before they're forever banned?
Sadly, I cannot answer any of those questions.
However, Debi could answer the question I asked in the early morning hours on Sunday - “Everyone is OK”, she said.
But she and I both know that no one in Orlando will be OK for a very long time.
"...and a time to heal." (Ecclesiastes 3:3)