“Mom, are you on Facebook?”
That’s how I found out about the shooting of two young women on their way home from school last Friday.
I was packing to go home to Wichita Falls, and I hadn’t been on social media all day. I stopped getting news alerts months ago. When DD shared what social media posts said, my stomach dropped.
By the time I got home, more facts were known and most Wichita Falls media outlets were covering the story, so facts were readily available, and people knew one of the victims had died.
My heart hurt as I thought about what kids all over Wichita Falls were going through. After 22 years in the classroom, I think about my kids first.
I’m in town almost every weekend because my father-in-law has terminal cancer and I want to spend time with him, my mother-in-law and my parents. The trips home are usually fast, 12 hours of laundry and visits with family then back to Ft. Worth and preparing for the week.
I couldn’t wait for this holiday weekend with its real time. DH and I are apart most of the time right now. This weekend would be different.
And it was definitely different this time. My former student Missy White wrote a column that speaks greatly to what many Wichitans were feeling, Patrick Johnston’s TRN coverage kept us up to date on facts, KFDX even used Facebook Live to report and a former student Dewey Cooper kept up to date with his own coverage of the event using social media in a way that showed me the future of breaking news journalism.
But being aware of what was going on and what people were thinking and feeling wasn’t the biggest difference of this weekend.
Watching the community rally around the families of the victims reminded me of how special Wichita Falls is. Seeing the lines at Sam’s and comments on the gofundme pages and the community action to support McNiel and all the students and staff hurting, reading posts about church youth pastors opening doors to be there for kids on days where camping trips and fun vacations had been planned, reading as responses were planned for Tuesday’s return to school, all of it brought home how beautiful Wichita Falls is. How a town of over 100,000 can feel small. How people care, even when they don’t know you.
I’ve read so many posts by people about how proud they are of the town and the surrounding areas. This is another one of those posts.
There are a million conversations that need to take place as people dissect the events of last Friday, but for now, I simply pray for those hurting and for the response teams working to help people deal with that pain.
What happened Friday is awful. It’s devastating. But the response made me proud to call Wichita Falls home, even though I live somewhere else now.