So, so powerful.
That's the only way to characterize Orlando survivor Patience Carter's description of the hell that she endured at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday.
In a front-page story today, the Los Angeles Times puts readers in the middle of the heartbreaking scene:
The lede from the Times:
ORLANDO, Fla. — As Patience Carter and two friends cowered inside the handicapped bathroom stall, injured and pinned by a crush of bleeding bodies, the gunman who opened fire in the Pulse nightclub kept talking.
“He said, ‘Are there any black people in here?’ I was too afraid to answer,” said Carter, who is African American.
Carter continued: “There was an African American man in the stall with us... he said, ‘Yes, there are about six or seven of us.’ The gunman responded back to him saying that, ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with black people, this is about my country. You guys suffered enough.’”
Carter, a slight 20-year-old NYU student from Philadelphia, had just arrived in Orlando, Fla., for her first night of vacation.
On Tuesday she and others who sought refuge in the side-by-side men’s and women’s restrooms during Sunday’s attack recounted how the gunman barked orders, claimed to have accomplices and laughed during the attack, which took 49 lives.
They also described how those trapped in the restrooms played dead, reached out to police by phone and tried to arrange their escape.
At this point, you may be wondering: What's the religion angle? Glad you asked.
In her comments to reporters, Carter mentioned God at least four times. And some of the news outlets reference those comments, including the Times:
Carter, meanwhile, could only wait. At one point, she prayed to die.
“I was just begging God to take the soul out of my body,” she said.
She managed to pull herself into the other stall and sit up. She'd already been talking to God.
"I really don't think I'm going to get out of there," she thought. "I made peace with God. Just please take me, I don't want any more. I was just begging God to take the soul out my body."
And CBS News:
As she was lying on the floor looking over the "piles" of bloody bodies in the bathroom, she said she "made peace with God and within myself."
Carter said she asked God to take her away so the pain would stop.
(The Orlando Sentinel story does not mention God.)
If you watch the YouTube video above, God figures heavily in these remarks by Carter:
At that point, I was just like, "I really don't think I'm going to get out of here." You know, and I made peace with God within myself. And I said, "You know, God, if this is my time to go, if this is how I have to go, just please take me." Like, I don't want any more like shots. So I was just begging God to just please take me. And I just wanted to close my eyes and just let him literally take the soul out of my body. I was begging God to take the soul out of my body because I didn't want to feel any more pain. I didn't want to get any more shots.
So yes, Carter talked about God.
But did she say anything about her faith? Did reporters have any opportunity to ask followup questions? If so, did they inquire at all about what she believes and where she sees God in such an unfathomable tragedy as this one? If not, why not? Wouldn't such questions about her religious background be appropriate since she brought up God?
I don't know the circumstances of Carter's meeting with reporters. I don't know if this is a case of journalists simply reporting all the information they had available or if, in fact, this might be an instance of holy ghosts haunting news coverage.
I do know this: I am curious about Carter's faith and would love to know more.
Her story is powerful.
So, so powerful.