My heart is breaking, and I cannot stop crying. I do not know you, Matt and Melissa Graves, I was never blessed to meet your sweet boy Lane, but I was up all night thinking about you and your family. I have never laid eyes on you- but I cried -uncontrollably as if you were a close friend or family hearing the news that your precious angel was ripped from your family by a predator. As I sat on my couch last night watching CNN in the background facing the devastating back to back tragedies this week in Orlando- the young talented and up and coming singer from the Voice Christina Grimmie killed after a concert at the Plaza Live Friday night. The gunman killed himself after shooting her. Then the devastating tragedy when early Sunday, a gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others at the Pulse nightclub- and I listened to each of the survivors ask why them, and each of their families speak about their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, loves- taken because of hate, intolerance, and plain evil. Then- wallowing in the sadness of humanity your story came on. A family, just like mine- set to vacation at "the Happiest Place on Earth" Disney World with your family. I imagine myself there, in your shoes... waking up early exploring the Disney Parks which is always a long day of fun and excitement for the whole family. I picture you there tired, relaxing by the lake with your precious family. I imagine my daughter Brooklyn, who is also two- and how happy she would have been after seeing Mickey and friends, and the joy she has playing in the water. I imagine the content feeling you have as a family being together, cherishing these memories- a lifetime dream of every child- and a joy to so many around the world... and then I imagine the horror that unfolds next- and I cannot breathe.
I cannot see what you saw, I cannot feel the fear and horror your family experienced.... but I cannot get the image replaying in my imagination out of my head. I cannot imagine the next few hours sitting in your hotel room- replaying every single moment of "what ifs" and what you would do over if you could rewind time...but, you can't. I shared your story on my facebook page and wept as I tossed and turned and could not find the ability to sleep thinking of you and your torment- thinking of your precious baby boy- and thinking of my own children and what would I do if I was in your shoes.
I woke up today, to see most people, like myself were in horror and empathetically sending prayers to your family...I was saddened, shocked, and frankly, irate to see how people chastised you on social media- saying "if only you would have watched your kids". As if they are perfect, as if they have never made a mistake, as if they had never wished they could turn back time. I was not there, I do not know your story or all of the details, I can't help but go through every scenario in my head- having multiples - trying to comfort one, watching the other, trying to relax after an exciting and tiring day, trying to get a "terrible two" to listen, ... I can't even go to the bathroom without walking back to the walls being colored, maybe you were trying to get them out of the water; or maybe you had the innocent presumption You were right there next to your child- watching them-so everything would be fine, but it wasn't.
People point to the signs that were posted (none mentioning risk of alligators- just warnings not to swim). Honestly, if I myself was at a 5 star resort in Disney World- I would think only that the signs were there to prevent drowning without a lifeguard present, or avoid liability of law suits-- I myself might have gotten in the water after a hot day in the Floridian Sun, or thought, "we are right here, watching them, what could go wrong?" Media says it is the first time it has ever happened there. Maybe that makes me ignorant, or naive- but no one could have predicted that. For the people who sit on their high thrones of couch perfection - an outsider looking into your life, and your family - with a magnifying glass casting judgement- YOU are the perfect parents, with perfect children, and YOU have never made a mistake...doubtable, but sure if you want to believe that... but for the rest of us- who are not "perfect" I certainly being one of them - we ALL make mistakes and some are silly things we can look back and laugh on and others- such as this are not so fortunate, and you have to pay the ultimate tragic price. Kicking you when you're down is not only unnecessary, it's cruel- and those people -they do not speak for the rest of us- I am SO SORRY and you're NOT alone. I don't even know if you saw the sign, I don't even know if that matters- you cannot change anything, although I am certain you desperately wish you could.
I understand they recovered Lane- and you will now have to go through laying your two year old son to rest, explaining to your older children he will not be coming home. You will never see him get married, you will never see him graduate from HS and College, you will never see him realize his dreams- all the things that you plan on and imagine the day they place your child in your arms after being born. You lost your baby boy, just as the parents of those who lost their 49 innocent children. This has been a devastating week for Orlando, for the United States, and for each of you and your families. I wish I could turn back time, I wish I could undo this hurt and pain you feel, I wish I could bring your baby boy back- and all of the recent victims. Nothing any of us say or do can bring them back. I send you- all of you- my deepest condolences, I send you my prayers, I send you my hope for peace.