What happened in Orlando, Florida is crushing my heart…again.

The weight of what happened in Orlando, Florida is crushing my heart.

Especially as a mother.

My eyes welled up when I saw the news about a mother getting her son’s desperate texts telling her he was trapped in the bathroom inside The Pulse nightclub with the shooter.

“I’m going to die,” were the chilling words he texted to his mother.

The fear these words deliver to a mother’s heart is indescribable. The helplessness is utterly devastating.

I know how those parents felt as they first heard the news about the shooting and where their children were at that very moment.

You see, I have been in that same position.

I am also a mother who got messages from a child trapped in the middle of gunfire coming from terrorists.

Bianca email shooting Paris

Our 20 year-old was in Paris on a semester abroad. I was 6,000 miles away. I wasn’t watching the news, so I didn’t know what was happening.

But when I put on CNN the news was bone chilling.

We exchanged Facebook messages for the next two hours.

Paris Attack FB PM Convo with Bianca 3

Paris Attack FB PM Convo with Bianca 4

Paris Attack FB PM Convo with Bianca 5

My child, the youngest of two, was trapped in a restaurant hiding from the terrorists who attacked Paris only eight months ago.

November 13, 2015 is a date I will not soon forget.

The screenshots of the young man’s messages to his mother broadcast in the media June 12, 2016, brought on the terrifying feelings I had when I first read the message delivered to my cell phone.

The first emotion that washed over me was plain disbelief. How could this be happening to my child?!

Then, the sobering reality of the situation took over as I realized I was powerless.

So many thoughts, heartbreaking scenarios, flooded my brain as I tried to prepare myself for the worst.

But nothing helps in these moments of sheer terror.

We pray. We scream. We pray louder. We beg they will all be spared.

50 49 children were not spared in Orlando.*

Mine was spared in Paris.

We exchanged Facebook Messenger messages for over two hours as I tried to calm down our daughter, and inform her of the situation all around her.

Each ping on my cell phone was a huge relief.

It was a sign of life.

She was able to run for her life. She ran away from the scene of devastation only a few steps away from her hiding place, and made it safely back to her dorm.

These were the most stressful and anxious two hours I have ever lived through. I hear the pings from Facebook Messenger today and still shudder a bit.

Whether they are minors or adults, they never stop being our children — and we never stop thinking as mothers. Our instinct to protect our offspring is fierce and difficult to control.

Waking up today, and seeing the screenshots with the final words from this child in Orlando to his mother, is heart shattering.

I imagine she will stare at that screen for hours, maybe days, wishing her son could jump through it any minute. I pray that she will find peace again…soon.

I am 3,000 miles away from the massacre in Orlando, Florida, but my soul is there. I am shaking as I write this because it sure feels like I’m right there, right now, with this mother. With all those parents.

I hope I don’t feel like this again.


*The number of victims changed to 49 to exclude the shooter.


  1. I remember you sharing about your daughter’s experience in Paris when I read the young man’s text too. This is all so tragic. Our hearts and prayers are for healing and comfort for everyone effected

    • Suzette Valle says:

      Thanks, Kate. So many of us are affected by these awful crimes, and their effects last longer for some of us. Hugs.

  2. I can’t even imagine the fear you must have felt in those moments – it makes me sick to think about doing the same with my son. Really glad that your daughter was safe. The last few days have been emotionally tough for most who think about these events I think – but we can only look at the lives lost in celebration of the lives they lived instead of the horror of their deaths in order to not let hate win.

  3. Mo says:

    Hi – as a mom with two girls, one who desperately wants to move to Paris, I can only imagine the stress and worry you must have felt receiving that message from your daughter . I’m relieved that your situation had a safe ending.

    As someone that resides in Orlando, I think I speak for everyone when I say that those text messages hit us at our core. Thank you for your words – it has been a heavy couple of days but we have an amazing community that will not be torn apart by an act of terror.

    Hugs to you.


    • Suzette Valle says:

      Thank you, Mo. You must feel torn, too. I hope that your daughter will get to go to Paris someday soon. I hate to think these terrorists would rob her of a dream. If you click on the link about how my daughter was spared, you may get some help from my perspective when this happened in Paris, and we didn’t bring her home. This could help you make a decision for your daughter when the time comes.
      Hugs to you, too!

  4. andrea says:

    I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the mother texting her son while he was locked down in the bathroom with a gunman or yours with your daughter.(you’re a very strong woman) It is so tragic and my heart goes out to all that have been effected by this senseless killing. I know we cannot protect our children I mean remember the shooting in the movie theater in CO but we can try to help them make the right choices. And at this time I choose to keep them close.

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