The mother of a 14-year-old killed in last year’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school has released a Valentine’s Day letter to her daughter ahead of the attack’s anniversary, telling her “I wish I could take all the bullets for you.”
“It’s Valentine’s Day. A day full of love, chocolates and flowers. For me, it is more than that now. Last Valentine’s Day was the last time I saw you,” begins Lori Alhadeff’s letter to her slain daughter, Alyssa.
The letter, shared by the nonprofit Dearworld.org, reflects on Alhadeff’s perpetual pain, her family members’ lives and the mother’s detailed memory of Feb. 14, the day a gunman randomly killed her daughter and 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“I remember you weren’t looking forward to going to school that day. Like many 14 year old girls, you wanted a Valentine and were disappointed that you didn’t have one,” her mother recalled.
“I remember the golden gift bag I gave you that morning. It held a pair of diamond earrings to make you feel pretty, a chocolate bar to make you smile, and hair ties so you wouldn’t ask for mine.”
Before Alyssa got out of the car, her mother’s last words to her were, “I love you.”
“A year has been a long time without you,” she said.
Along with her heartbreak, Alhadeff shared her personal triumphs, which include her winning a place on her daughter’s school board, launching a nonprofit called Make Our Schools Safe and championing a New Jersey law in her daughter’s name to make schools safer from violence.
“There are things I do in your memory that I never thought I could or would ever do,” Alhadeff wrote.
“It’s been a year since I saw you. You, in that black and white dress, those Converse on your feet, and that smile. I’ll never forget that smile. It feels like yesterday. I just want you back,” ends her letter, signed “Mom.”