Feb. 14, 2018 is a day that many across the country have mourned. Even if you did not personally know anyone inside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that day, the event that took place has continued to evoke shock, confusion, anger, and most of all, grief.
17 people died that day, leaving countless others to work through an immense amount emotional trauma. While the country has rallied behind families and friends of those who died, it’s hard to relate to the parents of victims.
Lori Alhadeff, the mother of Alyssa Alhadeff, has shared about that horrific day and what life looks like in the aftermath of her daughter’s death. Alyssa was a 14-year-old student and had an extremely promising future ahead of her.
Alyssa’s room is just as she left it that seemingly normal morning. Textbooks, note cards, and nail polish strewn about.
But now it serves as a place of solace that reminds Lori of her beloved daughter. A place where she can curl up in her sheets, smell her daughter’s perfume, wear her bleach-stained hoodie or touch anything that helps comfort her.
Soccer was one of Alyssa’s passions. Lori had planned on signing her up for a summer soccer camp where college scouts could come watch her play.
In fact, Alyssa played in one of the best games of her life the day prior to her death. “Everything came together for her in that game — all her soccer technique and skills were perfect; everything she trained for her whole entire life was magnificent,” Lori said.
As Lori recalls that day, she remembers telling Alyssa, “I love you,” as she got out of the car that morning. It was a normal day until Lori received a text from a friend around 2:41 p.m. telling her about the shooting.
She immediately drove to the high school and ran towards the yellow tape. She remembers just screaming and grabbing herself.
“Because I knew, I needed Alyssa, I needed to help her. I knew she was in trouble. I felt like she was telling me, ‘Mommy, help me, help me — I’m hurt.’”
Lori desperately tried to get past the men securing the area, but was unable to. She tried everything to get to her baby.
She didn’t want to leave the school until she heard about her daughter. She waiting in a nearby hotel from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. the next morning.
Around 10 p.m., Lori told her rabbi to start planning Alyssa’s funeral. He encouraged her “to still have have hope.”
She eventually received the news no mother wants to hear, but she wasn’t able to fully process it until the following morning. They wouldn’t let her see her daughter’s body at the coroner’s office. Instead, they showed her a picture. That’s when she knew her daughter had died. That’s when it became real.
Lori described her daughter as compassionate, smart, and driven. A memorial from the community and her teammates has been set up on the sidewalk near the soccer field Alyssa frequented. Candles, chalk drawings, and photos have been set up in her memory.
Lori has been watching the music video to “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. It was Alyssa’s favorite song. She said that Alyssa has some of the same mannerisms as Cyrus and that everything in that video reminds her of her daughter. “Even with the boy in there,” Lori joked. “Alyssa liked boys a lot.”
Loris plans on starting a nonprofit advocating school safety in memory of her daughter. She hasn’t decided on a name yet, but a GoFundMe page has been set up. Lori plans on using the money raised for the new nonprofit.
In the meantime, Lori is just trying to get through each day. Finding new ways to feel close to Alyssa and making sure others don’t forget her incredible spirit.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.