Mother of Rehtaeh Parsons remembers slain Mountie’s support during her darkest hour
HALIFAX -- The worst night of Leah Parsons’ life was seven years ago, when her 17-year-old daughter Rehtaeh attempted suicide after months of online bullying and harassment. She passed away two days later.
Throughout everything, a Mountie stayed by Parsons' side to support her – Const. Heidi Stevenson.
“That night when we called 911, the fire station showed up, paramedics showed up and Const. Heidi Stevenson also showed up,” says Parsons.
“She showed a lot of sincerity and compassion at a time when it really mattered.”
Parsons recalls a moment when Const. Stevenson stepped into the bathroom of her home to have a heart-to-heart.
“I could really feel that she was a lovely, compassionate, and caring person, that it wasn’t just her job. She was actually connected,” says Parsons.
“She accompanied us to the hospital that night with the ambulance, she came the next day as well and the next day, so it was a three-day ordeal,” says Parsons.
Const. Stevenson also took part in a memorial walk for Rehtaeh.
“She was the one who volunteered to escort us as we started our walk, because there were hundreds of people and we needed a police escort and she showed up. She showed up for a couple of those to do that.”
Parsons said she was shocked when she learned Const. Stevenson had died in the line of duty.
“When I saw her image on Facebook and then her name, it was a name that stood out and I’m like ‘that name sounds so familiar,’” says Parsons.
“I went on her Facebook and I looked at a few other images and then I started feeling like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think that’s the same constable.’ I ended up verifying and confirming it because my memory, I wanted to make sure that it was accurate, so I had to go and confirm it and yeah, it was her.”
With Const. Stevenson’s family now going through their own trauma, Parsons is sharing some advice.
“It’s to be very kind and loving to yourself and to nurture yourself in every single moment of the day,” says Parsons.
“Those moments and the memories and people sharing their love of their wife and their mother, that’s the things that keep you going. When other people share a moment and you are like – my mom, or my wife, or my friend, or my aunt, whoever it is – she’s touched so many people. The ways she has touched our lives, she’s also spread that out and I think Heidi Stevenson has touched hundreds of lives,” says Parsons.
Through her work with the Rehtaeh Parsons Society, Parsons speaks about resiliency, how to move through trauma, how to connect to yourself, and how to honour your own pain.
“The human spirit is made to adapt and when we nurture ourselves in trauma, we can move through that because we are born to love and born to grieve. Those are the two things that we definitely know about the human spirit and that we can move through this.”