It has been very hard over the weekend to not notice the news from Florida, first the amazing Christina Grimmie then the Pulse nightclub.
Grimmie came to my attention many years back when she did a cover of David Guetta's hit 'Titanium' and since then I always used to check her out every few weeks to see what else she has sang. I would say she has a bright future for her, but she was recognised - and rightly so! She was (and I feel bad having to use the term 'was' instead of 'is') recognised, not only through the amazing videos she had started posting since the tender age of 15 on YouTube, but also being on the U.S. version of The Voice. With that voice and how she had that personal feeling when speaking on YouTube, she was nothing short of amazing!
Sadly though, upon waking Saturday morning, I checked Twitter and noticed I had a DM from a good friend of mine over in the U.S. and he mentioned the incident that happened. I then checked my local news source (BBC News) and yes, it was confirmed. My heart sank. 22 years of age. That's no age to be taken from this life. Without sounding strange, thankfully with the internet/WWW, her voice can still be heard, loved, and enjoyed by millions for the rest of time.
Sunday arrives with yet more bad news. Not one life taken, but at the time I saw the news reports, it was 'at least 20'... it didn't take long, sadly, for that figure to suddenly rise. I was talking to The Mother about the situation at Pulse nightclub and then when I refreshed my browser the news broke that the death toll was 'at least 50'. Both our responses were "fucking hell".
As the press conferences were spaced out at 2/3-hour intervals, there really wasn't much the news networks could mention, however for us Brits that wanted to keep up to date with the news over the pond, we couldn't. On our TVs (be it Freeview, FreeSat, Sky, Virgin, etc.) our main news broadcasters, BBC News and Sky News, were both covering the Queens birthday (2nd) celebrations - all we had to rely on was the ticker. Thankfully CNN was available on Sky (which is what I have), would say FOX News is available too, but we have to pay extra for that, and RT was also covering it too. Obviously social media was the main place to be for updates.
As the hours went by and the updates slowed down, the overall reality slowly started to set in. Normal innocent people casually deciding to go to Pulse for a drink and dance - unwind and enjoy life, as we all like to after the week - but unbeknown to them, they would, sadly, never leave.
The response on social media has been overwhelming (there has been some horrible things mentioned, but I will avoid mentioning them narrow-minded idiots). Many landmarks around the world lit up with pride [flag] colours as a mark of respect.
One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower), New York
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Sky Tower, New Zealand
Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia
Tel Aviv, Israel
Not only were landmarks lit up, but here in the United Kingdom, we also stood with Orlando. My local Police force, Avon & Somerset Police, lowered the Pride flag at their HQ (in Clevedon - I believe) to half-mast.
And throughout the country there were vigils - bars even stopped normal service so that everyone could go out into the street and 'Stand with Orlando'.
Caerdydd, Cymru (Cardiff, Wales)
Glaschu, Alba (Glasgow, Scotland)
Baile Átha Cliath, Éire (Dublin, Ireland)
The response has been amazing. I've found myself welling-up over it all. Please remember folks, we are just a small speck of existence in an unlimited universe. We're only on this planet for a very short time, so why the need for hate? Unite in peace and harmony, and be happy.