There isn't anything I can say about the events in Aurora that won't sound cliche or hollow. No matter how someone passes away, the pain is there for those that loved them. No one can change that.
My mom is a hospice nurse. If you don't know what hospice is, she does home health care for people that have left the hospital and have gone home to die. There is no easy way to put it. That's exactly what it is. Prior to doing hospice she was a nurse that cared for cancer patients while they were in the hospital. I could never do either of those and I have no idea how she does it without becoming swallowed by grief when a patient - almost all of whom she makes a personal connection with - passes on. My dad calls her 'an angel' and I'm inclined to agree. One thing she always says is that it's okay to mourn, but you can't let that be the lasting memory you have of that person. Celebrate the life that lived. Don't dwell on the life that's lost because it won't change anything.
I pride myself in being one of the few female editors on SB Nation. I love the fact that we have three female writers that can hold their own in any hockey argument. No matter how women make strides towards equality, sports will always have the mentality of an 'old boys club'. It's not that there aren't women covering sports. It's that for every SK or Kristen, there are several silicone enhanced, scantily clad female hockey 'fans' getting more attention.
I won't pretend to know Jessica Ghawi (blogging under the name Jessica Redfield). It wasn't until Greg Wyshynski tweeted that she was an intern with You Can Play did I make the connection that she and I had emailed about a YCP project she was coordinating. Other than that, I've learned about her from tweets and blogs of people that actually knew her and called her a friend and colleague.
I hate that the mainstream media is picking up on Jessica's story and sensationalizing it. They aren't concentrating on the huge strides Jessica had made in the sports journalism world. They are focusing on what she could have been instead of what she accomplished. She was a popular blogger who had managed to get her way into the Colorado Avalanche's press box. The mainstream media doesn't appreciate how difficult that is, especially when you're a young woman. I'm a few years older than her and have struck out with the Ducks PR ever since I started writing for AC. Helene Elliott of the LA Times is a Hall of Fame sports writer, but she didn't get that without a ton of hard work - especially in the pre-internet world where female sports writers were few and far between. This is a sisterhood few will understand unless they've been part of it themselves.
I was going back and forth as to if I was even going to write anything about today. It wasn't until I read this letter to Jessica from her friend, and fellow sports journalist, Caity Kauffman, and watching the countless news reports, did I feel like I had anything at all to say. Caity runs through a multitude of still raw emotions. She is angry at the events but she will not let it stop her from continuing to blaze the trail. I was inspired by the last line of the letter:
But don’t worry, Jessica. I won’t give up on my passions – it’s fearless, firecracker women like you who pave the way for the rest of us.
Fearless. To put your work out for the world to see (and openly critique) takes guts. To push to be a part of group that you're already considered an outsider before you even walk in the door, you must be fearless. Jessica did what I've been afraid to do - make noise and demand to be heard.
Thank you, Jessica, for showing that girls can cover sports just as well - if not better than - boys can. On behalf of sports loving girls everywhere, we are proud to have called you a sister.