SARASOTA, Fla. -- “He was my friend not just my cousin. He’s someone I will miss for a very long time,” says Jennifer Graney.
She says this wound -- the loss of her cousin Eddie Sotomayor -- will never heal.
Sotomayor was one of 49 victims shot and killed at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. Sotomayor saved his partner’s life during the shooting -- he called to tell him not to come back to the club.
“We want everybody to know how much we loved him, how dear he was to us… accepted as our Eddie. Eddie was the glue at family get-togethers, the light in the room. He’d poke fun at serious issues, make everybody laugh,” says Graney.
Sotomayor's family has remained silent until now.
Graney says, “We didn’t want any political message being sent. We wanted to focus on the light, love that was Eddie the light and love shown through his death.”
From tragedy---victims’ families like Sotomayor's have seen love grow.
“I think it did soften people’s hearts," Graney says. They don’t care who he was what he was doing. He didn’t deserve that. The truth nobody deserved to die the way they did at Pulse.”
Graney says Sotomayor often joked one day he’d be “World Famous” -- he wore a T-shirt with those words. While the world knows his name, it’s how he lived no one will forget.
“Last few years of his life he was working towards being the best person he could be. I think for me—I’m so proud of him. When he died the direction of his life, doing good for others,” says Graney. She thinks his legacy is to care about one another.
Sotomayor's story is being told in a documentary called “1 of 49: A revolution of love.”
Graney wants others to live as Sotomayor lived.
“We can’t live our lives in fear. We have to live our lives to the greatest good, be kind to each other, enjoy life …it’s too short. He taught us and everybody he knew … to live their lives the way they want to … by their own rules.”