Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, in which a gunman opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Florida, killing 49 people. A year on, Emily Addison is reflecting upon what it feels like for her to lose her partner, Deonka Drayton, during the shooting.
In an interview with StoryCorps, featured on NPR, Addison opened up about Drayton, their son, and the night that her partner died in the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.'s modern history.
"She had a beautiful voice, the most amazing smile, and she smelled so good all the time," Addison said of Drayton.
The two had moved to Florida together in 2012, and even though Drayton hated the heat, she made sure to play outside with their son whenever she got the chance.
"It did not matter how hot it was outside, she would go outside and play ball with our son," Addison said. "And she used to always tell me that, as long as she was alive, our son and I would never want for anything. And she kept her word."
On the night of the shooting, Drayton had texted Addison, but since the two of them usually turned their phones on silent when their son was asleep, Addison didn't see them right away.
"She said that she was scared, people were shot," she recalled. "But when our son is asleep, we turn our ringers off. And I feel like I wasn't there for her when she needed me the most."
When Addison saw the texts, she called Drayton, but the calls went to voicemail.
"I prayed so hard my knuckles were white," Addison said. "But she was one of the ones that was murdered in the bathroom."
"My son, he's three now, and every night ... when we're going to bed, we walk up the stairs, he'll turn to her picture and say, 'Night, night, mommy,'" she continued. I don't know how to get him to understand that she's never coming back, and I miss her so much. That feeling is constant. Like, I need her to call me. I need to see her."
To mark the anniversary, the city of Orlando is designating Monday as Orlando United Day, and has planned to host a series of events to honor the victims, including a candlelight vigil, according to the Orlando Sentinal.
"I will always love her, no matter what," Addison said. "There will never be an end."
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