July 20, 2012

Anger. Disgust. Sadness. Disbelief.

Those were my feelings when I became aware of the shooting that took place early Friday morning in my hometown of Aurora, Colorado. How could something so terrible occur in such a peaceful suburban city?

But even more shocking was the passing of my friend and fellow journalist, Jessica Ghawi. Known professionally as Jessica Redfield, she was on her way to becoming a great sports journalist. She would light up a room with her humor and had a passion for journalism unlike any aspiring reporter I have ever known.

Jessica moved to Colorado from San Antonio a year ago, full of zest and ready to conquer the Denver sports market. She interned at local Denver sports radio stations and recently received media credentials for the Colorado Avalanche. Many sports media people in the Denver area knew Jessica because of her continued persistence to break into the Denver sports market with a bang.

I first met Jessica at a Colorado Rockies game last year and was immediately impressed at her energy and zeal for not only sports but also journalism as a profession. We stayed in touch through text and email where we would talk about sports and new trends in digital media. If you didn't know Jessica, her Twitter bio was an example of her infectious personality: "You can find me in the TV studio, NHL arena/locker room, on a plane, or writing. Southern. Sarcastic. Sass.Class.Crass. Grammar snob."

Jessica never shied away from any interview and Colorado Avalanche player Matt Duchene confirmed this by Tweeting his condolences to Jessica Friday morning: "Thoughts and prayers going to @JessicaRedfield 's family. Only spoke with her a few times but she was a sweet girl. Thinking about you guys"

I remembered reading the post in Jessica's blog, where she narrowly escaped a shooting in Toronto's Eaton Centre. A gunman opened fire, killing two and injuring six others. The aspiring newscaster wrote:

"I can't get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won't go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm's way. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting."

As I read this again today, 1,800 miles away from my hometown of Aurora, tears trickle down my face. The world was robbed of a great journalist, sister, daughter, friend and person.

I cannot imagine the feelings of her family, and the families of the other victims. Life is too short and Jessica's final blog post will stay with me forever:

"I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."

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