Saturday, June 18, 2016


It took us 7 hours to drive from Atlanta to Orlando to start the last bit, and spotlighting feature, of our vacation. Hours passed, and while I tried to wrap my mind around Orlando, I could barely comprehend that what happened had indeed happened. I kept my eyes open from the time we passed under the sign that read, "Welcome to Florida - THE SUNSHINE STATE" until we left. It seemed unfair that a state that boasts its brightness should have to endure such darkness.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” - Albus Dumbledore

I fancy myself someone who believes in spreading love and positivity - to be a light for others. I may not always be the best light or the brightest light, but a light I try to be. It's an obligation I've taken upon myself from a young age; the sense of urgency was instilled in me from different influences ranging from (but not limited to) church, my favorite Switchfoot lyrics, personal healing and books like Harry Potter. Only a couple of days before we headed for Orlando for our second honeymoon to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, two tragedies occurred that shook me to my core: one the murder of Christina Grimmie, the other the massacre of an LGBTQ safe haven. Lives taken so quickly.

What I saw rise from it all was something greater, though: flags at half mast, colors and rainbows decorating buildings and sidewalks, pride parades stubbornly and bravely marching on, and people appreciating what and who they have. Love. When I think about the people in my life whom I love, I think about our laughs, our hugs, our smiles, our "I love you"s. I'm thinking about the love they give me, and the love I try to give them in return. And despite how hard it can be sometimes to see it, we all deserve happiness. We all deserve those moments of light.

Even now I sit in a strange limbo where I foolishly want to believe I'm somehow safe from all of this, even when it's so close to me. Before our long drive down - hours of these thoughts haunting me - I was comforted by family that said it wouldn't happen in an actual park. Not with so many people, in broad daylight, and so much security. As if that changed or meant anything for the events that transpired before. We're all just grasping for comfort and hope amidst disaster. Danger is always a distant feeling until it's staring you in the face. We can't predict what others will do, but what we learn from all of this matters more.

Orlando drew nearer, and I looked to the sky. Hues of blue, purple and orange were setting against the clouds. To my left was a rainbow - a double-rainbow even. "An arc of spectral colors, usually identified as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of the refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain or mist." A show of light, peace, resolve, promise.

Monday evening, after the events in Orlando, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando held a night vigil at Hogwarts castle. Everyone lifted their wands and lights in respect of those lost. Just as everyone at Hogwarts had done when Dumbledore's life was lost. Knowing this warmed every part of me, but also broke my heart tremendously.

I got a simple spell today: "Lumos." The spell of light. Because it reminds me of Dumbledore's words, of flags at half mast, of spectral light beaming across a tearing sky, of the hugs I've shared, of billboards that say "#OrlandoStrong" or "#OrlandoUnited" in remembrance of neighbors, of singing "Love alone is worth the fight!" at the top of my lungs, of To Write Love on Her Arms, of God's love, of your love, of my love, of the love and brightness I see when - days after tragedy - Tripp and I celebrate our love through a replica of a story that taught us love (HP world). We may not be able to stop all tragedy, but we can certainly fight against it with love. I didn't just get this for Orlando, but Orlando made me realize that I had been sitting on it for too long.

We can be a light for a world. We can brighten shadows. We can BE love. Please, please, please hold onto your light.


  1. YESYESYES. Hold onto your light. Love it. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. so, so beautifully written. It is absolutely true! Eleanor Roosevelt said always to leave a person better off than when you found them.. Now if only everyone lived with this kind of love...?

    1. I would love a world like that. Thank you for reminding me of that quote.


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