CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands gathered this week to say goodbye to the Tucson, Ariz. shooting victims.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole spoke with a suburban couple that knows a similar loss, and they say this is only the first step in a long road to healing.

A piano ballad that was one of their daughter’s favorites helps the Dubowskis lovingly remember their daughter Gayle, a young women friends are sometimes reluctant to mention because of her tragic death.

“In fact, it’s just the opposite: There’s nothing that brings me greater joys when other people bring up our daughter,” father Joe Dubowski says.

Gayle was among the six killed three years ago by a disturbed gunman at Northern Illinois University. The violent death naturally causes her family great sorrow.

Yet almost immediately after the 20-year-old’s death, Gayle was helping her parents heal – through the words she wrote in a journal. Found beside an open Bible, the entries speak of dreaming big, overcoming fears and Gayle’s desire to help others.

“In her prayers she talked about really wanting to do great things for God, and she hadn’t talked to us about it,” Joe Dubowski said. “I think that inspired me and encouraged me that my work as a parent was not in vain.”

“I got to know my daughter in a way I never really knew her,” Laurel Dubowski, Gayle’s mother, said.

The Dubowskis have watched the nation rally beside the families of the recent Tucson shooting victims and know the healing process will take time.

Joe has written his own account of the family’s recovery in “Cartwheels in the Rain,” a path inspired by the words of their late daughter.

Gayle continues to inspire her family on a daily basis in a way they never imagined.  Her father Joe is now studying family counseling at NIU. As he walks the campus, he says he always feels his daughter’s presence.

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