Orlando / If I Die In A Shooting

Last night as I was wrapping up my bartending shift at Under The Gun theater, a coworker and I decided to go out dancing. Boystown was within walking distance, so we hit up one of the most popular gay clubs in Chicago. Little did we know that as we were dancing the night away, over a hundred people were being shot at a similar club in Orlando.

This morning I woke up safe inside my own apartment and showered and got coffee before looking at my phone and discovering the horror of what happened just hours before. A targeted hate crime took the lives of 50 people in one of Orlando’s most prominent gay clubs. And with a sinking stomach, I realized that had this happened in Chicago, I may not be here today.

The thing is, anyone of us could have been shot last night. All it would take is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, or even the rest of today. As expressed in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: “Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints / it takes and it takes and it takes…” Whether it’s from illness, natural causes, a freak accident, or a targeted crime, we are all going to die someday. That is the only thing we can be sure of in this life.

As Charles Burkowski said, “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” America and humanity as a whole have come a long way since early History. But we still have so much further to go. Mass shootings, especially targeted ones, are very much a problem and not one that we can become numb to. What a world we live in that all that is necessary for someone to create an act of violence is a desire to! The fact that differences of religious beliefs and racial backgrounds are still dividing us is a very sad reality. People are waging war against those who are different than themselves. It’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to hold opinions, but when you let your own agenda affect the rights and lives of others, it’s time to thoroughly check yourself. Someone else’s life is not your to take. Someone else’s beliefs are not yours to shape. We’re all stuck here on this planet until we each in turn die, so we’re just going to have to get along.

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

So hold your friends and family tight. Live and let live. And don’t be stingy with your love. The world needs more it.

Lastly, I want to share a letter written by Sophia Benoit because it resonates so strongly with me:

If I die in a shooting:

If I die in a shooting, here is what I want you to do:

If I die in a shooting, I want you to know I tried to get away, cause I dearly, dearly love life and I’m right in the middle of a very stupid romance novel but I still wish I could have read the ending because I love sappy drivel like that.

If I die in a shooting, I want you to have someone else clean out my room. Don’t save any of it, it’s just stuff. Remember me when you laugh at the wrong time. Also, have one of my friends clean out the second drawer of my nightstand. Just trust me.

If I die in a shooting, I want you to make the day about you, to really honor my death. Make it about you. That’s what I would love.

If I die in a shooting, please know that I cried in my car twice on Thanksgiving cause I missed you guys so much and I promised myself that no matter what I would come home next year (even though being home is hard and emotional and makes me want to scream).

If I die in a shooting, you should know that the last thing I was thinking about was probably something really funny to me like dear god no, don’t let this be the end…but also wouldn’t it be funny if I farted right now, right here? Because that’s how I am. A little sick. A little dark.

If I die in a shooting, please move on as swiftly as possible. If I didn’t come from a family of weepers, I would ask you not to even cry, but that’s not real. The other day I cried about the sieges on the Library of Alexandria. I know you’ll cry. But I’d prefer if you’d laugh.

If I die in a shooting, you should know that I loved it all. Even the bad minutes of life and I’ve been so fucking lucky that I haven’t had many. I loved them. I’m so glad I got this many moments.

If I die in a shooting, you should know that I lied about having seen Spice World.

If I die in a shooting, it will really ruin my plans to wear a hot dog suit in my open casket so I’m really hoping I don’t. Also I want to see all the kids grow up. And I wanted to have read at least one book by Hemingway, but I never got around to it. And I wanted to have made out with someone at the movies—I’ve never done that.

If I die in a shooting, please please please don’t wait to politicize it. Don’t honor me that way. I’m gone. Don’t wait until someone else is, too. Politicize the living hell out of it. Scream until they listen. Because if I for a second thought I could look back on earth and see that I was dead and nothing had changed, I would haunt the hell out of my local congressman.

If I die in a shooting, maybe you’ll finally get rid of the guns that are in the guest bedroom closet. I never liked sleeping so close to death.

 

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