Friday, July 20, 2012

Goodbye Jessica

Like I have said in the past, when something is on my mind I turn to writing.  Again, this post comes with bad news. 

When I woke up this morning, I did what I usually do and that's check Twitter for the latest news before going to work.  I saw the reports of the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  My initial thought was that it was going to be a long, busy day, like it usually is with breaking news.  The next thing I saw stunned me stiff.  A report of a person who I have corresponded with over the last four years was in the theater and was one of the 12 people who died.  Jessica Ghawi, or professionally Jessica Redfield, was an amazing person and that is an understatement. 

Let me give you a little background on my time with her.  She wanted to work in sports in the worst way.  Whether it be as a blogger, beat writer, in radio in TV.  It didn't matter.  She was going to do what it took to accomplish her dream.  I first met her through a message board then email.  Jessica was interning for a sports radio station in San Antonio and started blogging on the local AHL hockey team, the Rampage.  The team there was a minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes at the time.  Whenever I had a question about one of the players in the system there, not only did she have an answer on the guy's skills, but she had knicknames, favorite music and more.  We exchanged emails and messages often.  Then, the Coyotes affiliation moved to Portland, Maine and she moved to Denver.  Through Twitter and social media, her and I kept up relations.  She mostly wanted to know how the "kids" were doing, most notably defenseman Chris Summers who she had become friends with.  But, recently our hockey conversations turned.  She was in Toronto visiting her boyfriend when she had a notion to leave a shopping mall, just minutes before a gunman started opening fire.  She was the first to alert people to it via Twitter.  I saw her initial tweets and asked her if she was ok.  Jessica said she was, but she was shaken obviously.  When news broke on TV I was able to tell her where to go to be safe.  When things settled down, she thanked me for helping her and of course, I was happy to do it.  Since then, our messages have been one here and one there, but she always responded to me and vice versa. 

The one thing I am glad that is being shown about her today is how much she loved the sport of hockey on how much she was driven to become a success in the profession she dreamed of spending her life in.  Jessica had picked up a few jobs along the way.  From blogging about hockey on a website, to working games as talent help for the Colorado Avalanche hockey club, she did anything and everything to be in a hockey arena to cover a game, which makes today hard to swallow.  Someone with so much drive and enjoying it regardless of the road bumps is hard to find in a person these days.  Jessica made friends everywhere she went, especially with hockey writers and broadcasters in the business.  Not one person has a mean thing to say about her.

The one gift she gave me in her short life, is the gift of willingness to help others in my profession.  I remember an ASU student that wanted to be a hockey beat writer so bad it drove her crazy, some times wanting to give it up and try something else.  I knew what kind of writer she was and how good she is, I wouldn't let her quit. Now, she is a Coyotes owner away from being the Coyotes beat writer for the Arizona Republic, Sarah McLellan.  Sorry Sarah, you're my best example.  There are a couple of others I am trying to help now and hope for the best for their future in this tough business. 

Jessica inspired me to help others, especially the next generation of writers, broadcasters and reporters.  I will take her spirit and drive with me the rest of my days. 

Goodbye Jessica.  The reaction of your death around the country proves to me that you touched many lives.  You will live on with many many people.  Thoughts and prayers to her brother, boyfriend, family and friends. Her, along with the other 11 victims of today's horrific event, will be missed and remembered.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Month In The Life Of Me's another non-sports blog.  I should just drop the sports out of the name, this is ridiculous.  Anyway, one thing I have learned is if things get really bad, writing seems to help.  If you are reading this at whatever time it is, your first thought is "uh oh."  Before writing this I posted something on Facebook prefacing what this will be.  I also once again thank the one's who have been through this with me and apologize to the ones I may have upset along the way. 

This. is a month in the life of me.  If you are still reading, I appreciate it.  My current state of life isn't in the best shape, mostly due to nothing of my doing.  Which is odd if you know me.  Let's start at the beginning:

We lost our main air conditioning unit about four weeks ago.  It was the original a/c unit from when the house was built in 1974. Impressive I know.  However, we couldn't get another one up and installed until.....Saturday.  Luckily we have a unit for one room and borrowed a portable for the bed room.  It wasn't the best, but we made do.  Then..about two weeks into the extravaganza, our fridge goes out.  If you are keeping score at home, we are down a/c and fridge at this point, but we are holding on.  On top of all of this, I bought a car from POWER TOYOTA and had the remaining balance of a previous loan worked into the new contract.  No problem right? Ha. Six months later they still hadn't sent the check to the lender. we have no a/c, no fridge and impending financial doom, again.  All of which, we didn't do to ourselves.  Mix in my current health condition, which isn't the best at this time (see last blog post) and trying to work through tests and decisions and there is the month pretty much in a nutshell.  Even though I am probably leaving other small events out for whatever reason.

Now, you may ask "how is you and Nicole through all of this?"  Great question.  The answer is it has challenged the both of us to levels we never thought we would come to.  But, the great thing is that we are best friends and with that solid friendship first, we are working through all of this mess.  But, all of this has taken a toll, and probably would for most people.

So, here we are.  Tuesday July 10th, 2012, not knowing what tomorrow holds.  I have been very lucky to have been surrounded by great family and great friends.  Even as of today, some friends have come, some have gone and some are hanging in the balance.  I can only do and control so much. That lesson I have learned over my life.  It's hard not to think or stress over things, especially when it means the most to you.  That's when you learn to deal with life's challenges.  I thought I was pretty good at that until now.  What's funny is just when you have things figured out, even for a long stretch of time, God always throws a curveball at you.  It's what you do with it that defines who you are and who you may become.  See...ended up throwing a sports term into this.  I guess this is a sports blog afterall. 

If you got THIS far.  Thanks.  That means you care and that's truly all I need.  Thanks to everyone in my life.  There is a special place in my heart for all of you.  Maybe that's why I have an enlarged heart. True story.  It all makes sense I suppose.