Survivors and relatives of Pulse nightclub shooting victims gathered early Monday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Florida massacre.
Among the attendees were four mothers whose children were gunned down by Omar Mateen in the pre-dawn hours of June 12, 2016.
In the year since Americans awoke to learn of the deadliest mass shooting in the country's modern history, those mothers have formed a special bond based on shared heartache.
The women formed a support group in the wake of the shooting in the hope that their shared pain could one day lead to healing.
Mayra Alvear is one of those mothers. Her daughter, Amanda Alvear, was among the 49 people killed at the gay club on that fateful night. She was 25.
"Our kids are angels — they put us together," Alvear told CBS at a ceremony to honor the dead. "Something special. It's beautiful."
At the private vigil, attendees dressed as angels to honor the dead while others shared memories and lit candles.
Out of their unthinkable grief, Alvear says she and the other mothers have joined to come to grips with the tragedy, and add to the families that saw beloved members instantly taken away.
“We were strangers before, but we are family now, totally,” Alvear said.
Along with the mothers early Monday were Pulse employees and patrons who survived Mateen's rampage.
Pulse owner Barbara Poma, who was not at the club during the shooting, offered a message of companionship to everyone who continues to hear the echoing voices of loved ones lost.
“What you have endured in the past year seems like something only you can understand,” Poma said. "Except here tonight, you are surrounded by hundreds of others who are like you.”