Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has been recovering for almost 10 months, is now able to talk about her ordeal – at least the parts she recalls – with hopes of possibly continuing to represent her Arizona district in the nation’s capital.
Giffords was shot point-blank at a Tucson supermarket as she debated the nation’s health care law with high-spirited constituents. Even prior to the event, her staff had feared for her safety in light of the angry messages the office had received during the health care debate. They even advised her not to schedule the event where she was shot.
“Why don’t you take Saturday to yourself,” husband Mark Kelly recalled Pia Carusone, her chief of staff, saying.
“No,” said Giffords. “Let’s do it. Let’s hear what people think of everything.”
That particular Saturday would forever change her and her husband’s lives. During a Jan. 8 meeting with constituents at an Arizona Safeway, gunman Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head. Six people were killed at the event.
ABC’s Diane Sawyer sat down with Giffords in an interview that will air Monday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
“How do you feel?” asked Sawyer.
“Pretty good,” Giffords replies with a bright smile, as the public gets to hear her voice for the first time since the shooting. When she was released from the hospital earlier this year, doctors had said it could take months, or even years, of intensive therapy for her to relearn how to speak and walk.
“Is it painful?” Sawyer asks.
“It’s difficult. Difficult,” responds Giffords.
Sitting by her husband, Mark Kelly, who retired as a NASA astronaut soon after commanding his final space mission, it’s evident the couple has fought through the more difficult parts of her recovery – one that few survive. Yet the couple sees Gabrielle’s recovery as a marathon and not a sprint.
“Gabrielle Giffords is too tough to let this beat her,” Kelly told Sawyer during the interview.
“I think Gabby’s got a message now that exceeds the political one,” her mother, Gloria Giffords, said.
Almost no one – with the exception of her husband – expected her to survive, much less consider running for another term. What has made their experience unique though, is the home video footage they shot over the last several months that until now, has never been seen.
The footage includes scenes of Giffords as she tried to walk again for the first time. Her mother, who was by her side throughout her recovery, has called her daughter “inspirational.”
There were moments she would be singing. Others where she would be shaking her head. Some days were easier than others; especially given the Giffords had started fertility treatments in hopes of starting a family. That would have to wait.
But not all was lost for their extended family. Giffords had not established much of a relationship with her stepdaughters, but after her shooting they realized what an incredible person she was and were determined to be there for her.
Giffords and Kelly have written a memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, that will hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday. Although Kelly wrote the book, Giffords was able to weigh in on the last chapte, titled “Gabby’s Voice.”
“It’s an incredibly honest book,” said Kelly.