A son collapsed in tears at the funeral of his mother who saved his life at Pulse nightclub during last week’s Orlando massacre.
Brenda Lee Marquez-McCool, 49, went out dancing with one of her sons, 21-year-old Isaiah Henderson, when she heard gunshots ring out over the Latino music Isaiah was dancing to. This video, uploaded by Brenda on Facebook minutes before gunman Omar Mateen began his rampage at the club, is a testament to her colorful character and how much she enjoyed spending time with her sons.
A regular at the club with her gay son, Brenda enjoyed dancing and, according to an earlier report by the Inquisitr, hung out at Pulse on salsa nights. But when Omar Mateen began shooting at people senselessly on that fateful night, she only had one thing on her mind, and that was to save Isaiah from gunshots.
Before he knew it, his mother jumped in front of him to act as a shield between him and Mateen’s bullets. Isaiah survived, but Brenda did not.
“Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah and she got in front of him. She was shot dead. That’s how much she loved her kids. If it weren’t for her, he’d of been shot,” said McCool’s sister-in-law Ada Pressley, confirming reports that the mother had sacrificed her life to save her son’s.
Understandably, then, speaking at Brenda’s funeral at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando on Monday, Isaiah could not stop himself from breaking down, according to ABC News. In an apparent reference to his mother’s acceptance of his sexual orientation, Isaiah said that Brenda accepted everyone with open arms.
“I never thought that her life would be ended right in front of my eyes. My mother accepted everyone with open arms. She loved everybody equally no matter what. I haven’t stopped crying since.”
According to Henderson’s family members, the young man has been in a delicate emotional state ever since Brenda put her life on the line for him.
“He had to watch his mother die. He saw everybody getting killed. He feels it was his fault,” said Khalisha Pressley, one of her Brenda’s daughters.
Henderson and McCool’s other children remembered her as a resilient woman who was a family leader and a fighter. The funeral was punctuated with light moments with Isaiah, and some of his siblings, joking about Brenda’s passion for wrestling and how she would often beat her children at it.
“I have nothing to say to you because my heart is on fire. I have no words,” said Brenda’s brother, Michael Santos, before adding that his sister was an accomplished dancer and the life of the party.
As he concluded his speech, Santos looked upwards and asked Brenda to “tell Jesus to step up the salsa game.”
At the end of the emotional funeral for Brenda McCool, her family members walked outside to the church rotunda and released 150 white balloons in her honor. It was a beautiful moment as much as it was solemn. The family and the son whom Brenda had helped give a new lease of life bid their final goodbyes.
Brenda McCool might be gone, but even in death, she was celebrated for her valor and fighting spirit. And her son, Isaiah, would know about that better than anyone else.
[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]