The Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale is a sacred place for me.
It’s where I felt my father’s embrace for the first time in 16 years.
It’s where I met my sisters and stepmother for the first time ever.
It’s where I first discovered and felt the love and joy of this new family of mine.
And, like many other beautiful, sacred places, this airport has become a place of innocent bloodshed.
This past Friday, January 6th, a man opened fire and killed 5 travelers and injured 6 more.
They all had their own stories, too. The travelers had their own joyous reasons to be in this sacred place. They had their own families and loved ones to meet and spend time with. Even the man who pulled the trigger has his own stories, of joy and sorrow and pain that culminated into this violent moment.
This post does not serve the purpose of facilitating discussion around guns and mental illness.
This is me mourning the further loss of life at a place that holds so much meaning for me and so many others who see this airport as a sacred place of reunion, love, and joy.
I, like the families and loved ones of these victims, cannot walk across the terminals and pick up my luggage without remembering that innocent blood has been spilled there.
When I go to hug my father, stepmother, and siblings again, I will know there are people who will never again hold some of their loved ones in this same embrace.
When I walk with my family to the parking garage to make the drive home, I will remember that for 5 people, the baggage claim, not the homes of loved ones or resorts of joy and memories, was their unintended final destination.
And that is heartbreaking. And it is worth mourning.
It is a sacred duty to remember, mourn, and prevent the loss of sacred lives wherever we go.
So when I return to Hollywood International Airport again, I will mourn. I will pray. I will love my family fiercely.
I will do what I can, where I am now, to make sure there are fewer victims of senseless violence, and I will do what I can to make sure those perpetrators are prevented from doing this damage in the first place. This involves caring for them, too, and that will be hard, difficult work, and it needs to be done.
I don’t know how I will, but I hope that the act of being with my family and walking across those holy, devastating spaces will both remind me of what has been lost and give me the courage to do something that will bring more love and less hate into this world.
May we all do the same.