Today we saw an unspeakable tragedy in Aurora, Colorado as a gunman fired on a movie theater who was watching "The Dark Knight Rises". One of the victims in this tragedy was an up-and-coming sportscaster and sportswriter named Jessica Ghawi, better known as Jessica Redfield, which she used as a pen name. The reason I separate her from the rest of the victims; because she was one of the many people I follow on Twitter.
I'm not going to make it sound like we were close, I followed her, don't think she followed me, but that was fine. The fact that she was a good writer, enjoyed hockey and seems pleasurable through her tweets were enough for me to give her a follow. Even last night, her final tweets to Jesse Spector were ones that I remembered being particularly interested in reading.
When I woke up this morning, I didn't find out about the shootings until I got to work and looked over the news. At some point, I looked on my phone to see Twitter. All of a sudden, I begin to see the tweets that Jessica was killed during the shooting. Then I was reminded that she was in Toronto last month at the Eaton Centre shooting and wrote a blog post recounting the event. Ken Fang (click this one as Ken included her brother Jordan's statements about her death), Jesse Spector and Adrian Dater all wrote pieces this morning as they mourned her loss.
All I can think about, and honestly still think about is how because I followed her on Twitter, I feel like I just lost someone close to me, even though we never met and not likely to meet. And that really is what Twitter is for me, connecting with many others who I ordinarily wouldn't meet. In my case, they tend to be fellow sports bloggers like Ken Fang and Stacey Gotsulias. Brian Foley and Amanda Rykoff. Andrew Bucholtz and Brett Taylor. Those names I mentioned are among those who I met personally (most at Blogs With Balls 4). Still, there are plenty others who I've never met and that is something that will need to change. Because I don't want to see another tragedy like this happen to someone I follow without having the pleasure of meeting them. Back in December 2010, I lost another follower Steven Smith to a car accident before getting a chance to meet him. I don't want to have that feeling of regret again, and I'm many of you who use Twitter similarly feel the same.
As for Jessica's family, all I can do is wish you all of my condolences and pray that you can overcome this terrible tragedy.
RIP Jessica Ghawi (@JessicaRedfield)