NORFOLK, Va. - The Hampton Roads LGBT Community is healing, mourning and remembering the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. One of those in attendance was Mariela Crespo Williams, whose cousin, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, was killed two years ago.
"About 2:30 in the morning I woke up and lit a candle and said my prayer. I cried for a little bit," said Williams.
McCool's photo sat in the middle of the Wells Theater. It's one of 49 printed out to remember the people killed. McCool was at Pulse Nightclub that night with her 21-year-old son Isiah Henderson, who is gay. He survived.
"She's always said she would protect her children till the day she dies and that's exactly what happened. She protected her children until she died," said Williams.
The three organizers of the event told News 3 the goal of the event was to properly remember and honor all 49 victims.
"It's bittersweet because we don't want to say we're excited, but we're excited for the healing and for the community to come together and honor the victims of the Pulse shooting," said Sarah Hustead.
Rain moved the planned half-mile march indoors. But as people embraced one another and came together inside the Wells Theater, organizers got to see more of what they really hoped for.
"We really wanted to plan this event and make sure we created a space where everybody is welcome, everybody is safe and everybody knows we're here and we love you and we accept you and you aren't alone," said Amy St. George.
There were mental health counselors at the remembrance in case anyone needed to talk. Organizers believe holding a remembrance every year is important to showing the Orlando LGBT community they are not alone, even if it's not an easy task.
"As much as others may be afraid to have this conversation it’s important to remember it’s very easy to celebrate pride with us, but it's very hard to mourn and grieve with us during our darkest times," said Connor Norton.