This Saturday marks the year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting that left 12 people dead, including young sports journalist Jessica Ghawi. USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach wrote a tribute to Ghawi this week and interviewed her family and friends about how they’re dealing with the loss.
In life, Ghawi hoped to make a career out of telling other people’s stories. In death, she has brought people together to share hers, including a group of friends who meet about once a month to reminisce and celebrate Ghawi.
“It’s surreal that we have to talk about Jessi and not talk to her,” says Linda Cielencki, a friend who visited Denver a week before the shooting.
Ghawi’s mother Sandy Phillips explained to Auerbach how difficult the past year has been:
“You have to redefine who you are, how you are, why you are, all of it. … Your hopes and your dreams for that child. Thinking about them getting married. … How will you prioritize what’s important? Because the one thing that was your priority is gone.”
Sandy and her husband Lonnie now work for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Last year, they set up a journalism scholarship fund in Ghawi’s memory and exceeded their $20,000 goal, raising a total of $54,716.