I never met her in person, but I feel as if I knew her.
Jessica Ghawi, known professionally as Jessica Redfield, was a Denver-based hockey blogger and aspiring sportscaster. She died in the Colorado theatre shooting, in which 12 people were killed and 59 people were injured. She was only 24 years of age.
I have been in and around media for all of my professional life, and even before that as I grew up in a family of broadcasters. Whenever I hear news of a journalist being killed, it bothers me at my core because it feels close to home, so to speak. But this time, it was not a case of a reporter dying while covering stories from the front lines of a war zone. It was someone who was in a movie theatre, where one goes, using a term coined by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to have a "willing suspension of disbelief" and enjoy the magic of storytelling on the big screen.
Furthermore, the news of her death also hits close to home for me because I am one of many Torontonians who felt the pain of the Eaton Centre shooting, which, according to reports and her own blog, Ghawi narrowly escaped. She was in Toronto at the time visiting her boyfriend, Jay Meloff, a hockey player who lives in the GTA, and was shopping at the Centre moments before the shooting began. It is so bizarre that weeks later Ghawi would find herself in yet another situation with a gunman who would, this time, end her life.
Some writers reporting on the event have referred to this as a "cruel twist of fate." This leads me to question the notion of "destiny" -- and, more specifically, how we have only so much control over it.
Jessica Ghawi had a dream. She had the courage to move toward it and fulfil it. It is not easy being a broadcaster. Those who have talent make it appear almost effortless to the outside world, when in fact it is extremely difficult and requires a lot of skill.
If there is another cruel twist of fate at play here, it is that Ghawi's dream of being a famous journalist did come true, but perhaps not in the form she or anyone else had expected.
I honour Jessica Ghawi (Redfield) for her courage and motivation because she is an inspiration for many young women -- anyone, for that matter -- who want to follow their hearts and dreams. My heartfelt condolences to her friends, colleagues and loved ones.
CORRECTION: The original version of this blog stated 70 people were injured
cross-posted at www.ShannonSkinner.com
Follow Shannon Skinner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Shannon_Skinner