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Remembering the Orlando 49: Gilberto Ramon Silva Menéndez

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Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Gilberto Ramon Silva Menéndez

Gilberto Silva Menéndez left this world to the sounds of drums and those who loved him dancing to plena music with rainbow flags.

Silva Menéndez, also known as "Culi" and "Junito," was one of 49 people killed at the gay nightclub Pulse during a mass shooting on June 12. At his funeral, his family didn't want mourners to wear black. They wanted people to celebrate in the way that reflected Silva Menéndez's joyfulness by dressing in bright colors, holding balloons and dancing to Puerto Rican folk music.

"You were so special," his sister Marynell Valentin wrote on Facebook. "I only ask God to guide your soul. What I would give to hear your voice again, to have that smile you always put on my face. I love you, my gaviota. Visit me in my dreams because I need one of those hugs from you."

Silva Menéndez, 25, was originally from Manati, Puerto Rico, and moved to Orlando a few years ago. Before his death, he was working as a sales associate at Speedway and studying health care management at the Ana G. Méndez University's Orlando campus. His friends and family knew him as a happy person who loved music and life.

"It sucks to accept and live with never again seeing someone who only caused happiness in my life," writes Karla Cabrera, one of Silva Menéndez friends. "My mind is hurt and my heart has gone crazy."

On Silva Menéndez's birthday last year, his friends and family left loving messages to him on social media and imagined him celebrating in heaven.

"How time has gone by but the pain does not subside," Valentin wrote to her brother. "It's been eight months without listening to your laugh, without seeing you dance. Wow, how I miss you. You're always in my thoughts."

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