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A tribute to Jessica Ghawi

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The terrible shooting in Denver in the very early hours of this Friday morning still seems somewhat unreal. It is both shocking and tragic, and there are obviously and understandably going to be billions of words written about this terrible, pointless injustice.  From a news point of view, the story is going to be covered into the most minute details. On a more personal level, we are all going to have our opinions, and many of them are going to be very strong. I for one am barely able to conceal my anger at those who would even now protect this insane ‘right to bear arms’, a ‘right’ protected by a constitution written when bears and angry indigenous peoples were a real issue.

This article isn’t about any of that.

Far more experienced and superior writers are going to tackle the news and political elements of this tragedy. This is just about a girl, Jessica, who died this morning, for absolutely no reason at all, way too soon.

I was saddened to see that Jessica Ghawi, one of the confirmed twelve victims, (who writes under the name Jessica Redfield ) was an aspiring sports writer, and from what is available to read about her, a bright, shining, creative person who just loved sports and writing, and was making an innocent attempt to launch a life for herself in that realm. Somewhat prophetically Jessica had actually written about a shooting in the same mall she would eventually die in, on her blog, which you can read here.




I don’t know Jessica, but her story struck a chord in me, perhaps in the fellowship of those of us trying to gain a foothold in the world of sports writing. The people who didn’t come home alive from the movies last night all deserve their own respectful eulogies, Jessica’s story just grabbed me as particularly sad and lonely.

Perhaps it was the last few ‘Tweets’ she sent. There is something gut wrenching in the pure excitement and playfulness of her final comments, as she waited to see a movie she was looking forward to.



Perhaps it is her charming, innocent smile in her pictures available online.  Or perhaps what has me thinking about this poor girl I have never met, is the playful, creative and very funny article she wrote on her beloved hockey. In it she linked the type of guys she had been dating to NHL hockey teams.

This Denver\Colorado Avalanche analogy below, as it turns out, is particularly poignant

The Boy Next Door: Plain and simple, that is your next door neighbor. Whether you love them or hate them, you live next to them and they’re always around. That is your home team, the one that’s closest to you. That is now the Colorado Avalanche for me since I just moved to Denver and he’s my new neighbor. I haven’t quite decided what to think about him yet. He seems harmless in a cute and endearing way. I definitely see a friendship sparking between us. It may even turn into a full-blown love affair. We’ll see, I’m definitely keeping my eye on him though.

After what happened late last night in Denver, out there in the cyberspace realm of this lonely, fucked up world is a now unattended Facebook page. There are most likely a few text messages sitting in her mobile phone innocently asking how the movie was. There are probably a couple of emails from friends in her Gmail or Hotmail or whatever inbox, correspondence she meant to get to work on, and just hadn’t as yet found the time. It would appear Jessica was a pretty voracious writer in terms of volume, so no doubt there are still articles she has half-finished sitting in the ‘draft’ status, as they will do so now for eternity. Half-finished pieces of creativity from a life snuffed out before its time.

My heart goes out to all of Jessica’s family and close friends. She seems like a really terrific young lady, and amongst everything else, it is heart-breakingly tragic that none of us are ever going to know how good a sports writer she may have become.  Those ‘draft’ articles, those ideas and creative thoughts she had, will never come to fruition, and that’s horribly sad.

Hopefully some shred of her being will live on through a patchwork collection of her creative output, and hopefully that brings some small comfort to her family and loved ones.

President Obama put it better and more succinctly than most will today, "our time here is limited, and it is precious".



Follow Cormac on Twitter

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