‘Mommy I love you’

I like to think of myself as some one who is mentally tough. I’m certainly not physically tough, so long ago I needed to find some way to showcase my inner strength.

I try not go let too much get to me. I don’t complain often when things don’t go my way. And I try to suck it in when I’m feeling any type of pain.

Who knows, perhaps it’s some type of defense mechanism to shield myself from the horrors that can exist in the world.

But whatever the reason, one consequence of my desire to exude mental toughness is I don’t show a lot of emotion. And when I see or hear about something sad, my first instinct is to try to ignore it or change the subject.

Mommy I love you.jpgAgain — probably a defense mechanism. A psychologist could have a field day with me if I ever saw one.

And that’s sort of how I wanted to deal with the Orlando shooting. To stay away from it all. I’d read a few articles and listen to some news broadcasts just to keep up to date, but otherwise, I’d think about other things. It’s much easier to go about life that way than to deal with the sadness of 49 lives tragically cut short.

But there was one item that found its way to me today.

“Mommy I love you.”

Those were among the last words expressed by Eddie Justice, 30, as he texted his mom at 2:06 a.m. while he hid in a bathroom at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning in Orlando. He and his mother engaged in a brief conversation for a few more minutes, and then the texts stop coming.

Eddie was shot and killed.

And every time I think about it, I want to cry. Mommy I love you.

Those four words offer no more somber reminder that these were 49 people who — likeEddie Justice.jpg all of us — had a life, had friends, had a family, and had a mother. They had people that they loved and they were loved back. And now they’re gone from one senseless act of violence.

In his waning moments, all Eddie Justice wanted to do was tell his mother how much he loved her. “Call them mommy,” he texted minutes later, referring to the police. “I’m gonna die.”

If that isn’t a stark reminder of how fragile we are in this world, or how tenuous the difference is between life and death, then I don’t know what is.

But in the end, despite the horror, love was on his mind.

Mommy I love you.

I will not hide away from Orlando. As hard as I can try, I will remember every day of my life that we lost 49 good people on June 12, 2016.

In addition to Eddie Justice, here the are the names of the 48 other victims. To forget them is to shame them.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old