Parkland school shooting victim's mom shares what helps her heal

Her 14-year-old died in last month's Parkland school shooting. Here's how her mom is keeping Alyssa Alhadeff's memory alive.
by Donna Freydkin /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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It doesn't get easier.

Alyssa Alhadeff was one of 17 people killed by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz after he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14.

Talking about her remains painful — but necessary — for her mother, Lori Alhadeff.

“I’m in fight mode. Alyssa was a fighter. I’m her voice. Her spirit is in me. She’d want me to not just sit there and cry. She’d want me to be out here fighting and trying to make change,” Alhadeff told Megyn Kelly TODAY.

To honor Alyssa’s memory, Lori has created the Make Schools Safe organization, dedicated to her daughter, with a mission of avoiding future shootings. How she's doing personally depends on the day, the hour, the minute, the second.

“Sometimes I’m angry and mad and I want to scream. Other times I’m crying and upset and I don’t understand why Alyssa was taken from me this way. Other times I am strong and want to be as powerful as I can be,” said Alhadeff. “I have the support and love of my family and friends. My husband has been a huge support for me. I have a life coach that helps me deal with my feelings.”

Instead of baking a casserole or dropping off flowers, Alhadeff wants other parents to get involved. “I’m just one person. I want people to question the administrators. I want them to ask questions,” she said.

And please, don't tell someone in Alhadeff's position that you understand how she feels. Sometimes people come up to her and say they know how she’s feeling because they, too, have lost a loved one. Losing your child in a shooting is something most parents have, thankfully, never experienced.

“It’s hard for me to open up to people who want to relate to me because they have lost someone in their lives. I can’t give that part of me to them emotionally. I have to be able to protect myself. Don’t just say you’re sorry and be sad for me,” said Alhadeff.

The day of the shooting, Alhadeff rushed to the school when she heard that shots had been fired. She said she waited roughly nine hours until she found out that her daughter was dead.

"Every day, there is pain," she said.

Today, one of her most treasured possessions is Alyssa’s emoji blanket, which Alhadeff finds "soft" and “comforting.” She wants the world to remember her daughter as a leader, and someone who had plenty to give.

“She was the captain of her soccer team. She skipped pre-algebra and went right into algebra I and got an A in the class. She was meant for greatness,” said Alhadeff. “I want her to remembered as a beautiful, loving caring person. She had a contagious laugh. But she was kind. She volunteered at homeless shelters."

Parkland victim Alyssa Alhadeff with her parents.
Parkland victim Alyssa Alhadeff with her parents. Alyssa was 14 when she was shot to death at her high school last month.Courtesy of Lori Alhadeff

And she thought her world was safe.

"I would tell her to lock the door. She always said, ‘Why do I have to lock the door? It’s Parkland. Nothing happens in Parkland.,'" said her mother.

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