Bernadette Cruz’s 22-year-old son, Peter “Ommy” Gonzalez-Cruz, died in the June 12, 2016, mass shooting that targeted a gay nightclub.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ORLANDO, Fla. — She thinks of him every day — her beloved son Peter “Ommy” Gonzalez-Cruz.

Yet even as she grieves, Bernadette Cruz pushes forward, relying on her friends, her family and her faith.

Cruz’s cheerful, affectionate firstborn son was just 22 when he was caught in an ambush of gunfire on June 12, 2016 — one of 49 victims of the Pulse gay nightclub massacre.

At the first anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Cruz has a message for other parents: “Take advantage of every day with your family because you never know what can happen. Communicate often with your children and show them all the love you have for them. They will reciprocate.”

I checked in to see how Cruz is doing after writing about her son’s death last year.

As Christian Chronicle readers may recall, Gonzalez-Cruz was the nephew of my friends Luis and Tony Cintrón (they are twins). Bernadette Cruz is my friends’ sister. In my 2016 column, I highlighted a special connection that a Church of Christ in New Jersey made with the victim’s family.

On Friday, while in the Orlando area on an unrelated assignment, I took a few minutes to visit the now-closed nightclub site where gunman Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, opened fire.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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