There’s a park near Tricia Hanson Sapp’s home in southwest Fort Worth that she calls Princess Park.
The princess was her daughter, Sara, who was shot and killed in 2020. On a sweltering summer morning, Hanson Sapp sat in the park on Sara’s memorial bench, wrangling Sara’s old dog, Milo: a 100-pound half Boxer, half German Shepherd who’s “smart as a whip,” Hanson Sapp said.
In that, he reminds her of Sara, who excelled in school and dreamed of becoming a pediatric ICU nurse. The pain Hanson Sapp feels over her daughter’s killing defies explanation, she said.
“A piece of you is gone for the rest of your life, and the pain that comes with it is insurmountable, like no other pain,” she said. “It’s just gut-wrenching. And that doesn’t even seem a strong enough word to describe the pain.”
The last time Hanson Sapp saw her daughter was in August 2020, when she came by to drop Milo off before leaving for Louisiana on a weekend trip with her boyfriend, Hanson Sapp said. According to Bossier City, La. police, he shot and killed Sara in their hotel room. He’s now awaiting trial for murder.
When Sara died, Hanson Sapp joined the growing number of parents who have lost children to gun violence. Regular grief counseling didn’t encompass what Hanson Sapp was feeling, she said. She started looking for other parents in the same situation, and she found A Memory Grows: A Fort Worth-based nonprofit that offers weekend retreats for parents who have lost children. That includes a special retreat specifically for parents who have lost kids to homicide.
The other women Hanson Sapp met at her retreat are now her sisters, and through that community she’s gained a new life, she said.
“When people talk about a reawakening, I don’t think I could really understand that until this retreat,” she said. “It just changes your perspective, where you realize you’re gonna make it through.”