Her real name was Kimberly, but in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook, Ms. Leda Parisa-Walker’s 21-year-old son Levi tweeted a version of his name, asking her, “Why I have to live with my sis, and she has to live with her name.”
After seeing the tweet, Ms. Parisa-Walker got on the phone with her mother and sister, a lawyer in Indian Country who was among the first to call and text her immediately after the massacre on Dec. 14, 2012.
“Mom, he didn’t show up and he’s missing. What do I do?” she recalls asking them.
They told her to let her go to his school, where she found him on the bus, standing alone, crying.
“Here’s what I feel like,” she remembers her son saying. “I’m scared that someone is going to shoot up this school. I want to go home.”
Ms. Parisa-Walker drove from their family home in Connecticut to the school and returned to meet her son as he clung to his high school classmates.
His mother picked him up, realized he wasn’t moving and took him back home.
“From then on, I’m at his side 24 hours a day. All his clothes were in the closet, and that’s what I was wearing,” she recalls.
As the months passed, Ms. Parisa-Walker struggled with her son’s declining mental health. She has helped her with medication and therapy, despite the fact that she now has a second, grown son.
She also struggled with the program she set up, aptly called Self-Help and Prevention After Sandy Hook School Shooting (STOPS), which was designed to give herself and other Sandy Hook family members some guidance and support.