While the off season and free agent period has been going on for several weeks, and there is much to discuss in those regards. I decided I wanted to take a moment and say something about a member of the hockey community you may or may not know about. One of the first names released after the Batman Massacre was that of 24 year old Jessica Ghawi . Who coincidentally just narrowly missed being killed in a shooting at the Eaton Center mall in Toronto last month while visiting her boyfriend who is a minor league hockey player. She wrote about her experience after that narrow miss here, and a few parts of that post really stuck out to me.
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.” Painfully ironic as that same exact scene she described in Toronto in June unfolded early Friday morning outside a movie theater in Aurora, CO. This was supposed to be an event for college kids and young adults taking in the latest Hollywood blockbuster with friends and loved ones. Not this. Not a senseless act by a clearly unsettled young man robbing many friends and family of their loved ones.
“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.” Words escape me when trying to quantify the fear and the loss that occurred inside the theater.
Jessica Ghawi, also known as Jessica Redfield online, had relocated to Colorado from Texas to further pursue her career as a hockey reporter. She was quickly developing a reputation in Colorado as a smart hockey person with a personality and smile that was unforgettable. The outpouring of support for Jessica and her family and friends, not just from people all over the internet but specifically within the hockey community, really opened my eyes to something I had never really seen but always kind of knew existed. Hockey, unlike every other North American sport, isn’t just a sport. It’s a family. You don’t just follow hockey, you live and breathe it. I love hockey at every level, but what I have experienced from the outside of her bubble in the wake of everything is something I will never forget.
While I am focusing on Jessica’s story, I do not want to take away anything from the 11 other victims. But since this is a hockey blog, I feel her story resonates within the confines of this website far better than the story as a whole. I personally never had the good fortune to communicate with her, but from what I have read from those who did she was an amazing woman. And while she is gone, she will not be forgotten by those she touched in life and in death. Jessica Ghawi, may you forever rest in peace.
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