By Delilah McMasters
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, my heart caved in on itself.
I’m at work and my phone starts going off repeatedly. There was a shooting at a Mansfield school, family and friends immediately reached out. My boss called me, did I know? Timberview? And even though I should have felt relief that my babies were safe, I had a feeling of dread, overwhelming sadness, panic.
Recently I sat next to a vivacious young woman, we were both headed to Florida. She had moved here in the past year from California, a friend had flown in from Seattle and they were both headed to a bachelorette weekend. She told me how her dad had come from California to see her, how he had experienced some road rage, yelled at some people. She warned him to watch himself, people down here carry guns. He thought she was joking, until he noticed several people open carrying.
We laughed about it, it’s a culture shock for sure. We discussed how her friend is considering moving to this area. The friend has been looking at Mansfield, the schools have great ratings. I told her I was from that area, all six of my kids have gone to Mansfield schools, the youngest is in junior high. I bragged about our community. Got her number. Dani is a 911 operator.
It’s been two weeks since the shooting. It’s been talked up one side and down the other. The video posted was horribly violent. The shooting a desperate act of violence. Both sets of parents declaring the boys are good kids. But good kids don’t bully, steal, threaten, fist fight or shoot other kids? So whose fault is this? The boys? Their parents? The school’s?
Talking to my kids the past two weeks has been informative and confusing. The Drama Squad took it in stride, felt like the faculty at the schools they were in handled the situation well, they felt safe and so did their friends. They went back to life the next day like normal.
I didn’t. I fretted. How does this happen? How are the two boys? How are their moms? I looked up statistics for school shootings over the past 30 years — the length of time I’ve had kids in school. There isn’t a certain type of school or area, the kids come from all types of backgrounds, in other words, it’s not a rich or poor or race issue.
I thought about Dani and wondered if her friend still wanted to move to Mansfield for the schools. I also wondered how many calls Dani gets a day involving kids with guns and how she stays so outgoing and friendly. Wondered if she read about how the counselors in our community immediately offered their services for free. Or how Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie police department worked together to keep things as calm and orderly as possible for all the kids involved. I wanted to reach out and assure her that we are good people, our schools and our kids are still good too, but I think she’s already figured that out or she wouldn’t be in the profession she’s in.
Bad things happen to good people, sometimes there isn’t a clear-cut answer and worrying about all of it doesn’t make it better. Her profession requires her to be calm, empathic, to listen and create a safe place until help arrives, then get up the next day with a positive attitude and do it all over again. She looks for the good, so she can help.
Mansfield is now part of the school shooting statistics. It doesn’t make us any less, it makes us more. We are addressing the issues, making the effort and moving forward. Don’t sit on the sidelines and judge, be a Dani.
Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mother of six. Reach her at BlessYourHeart76063@gmail.com.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.