Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly: Diane Sawyer finds optimism, hope, healing and love
Published 16/11/2011 | 07:56
CONGRESSWOMAN Gabrielle Giffords, representing the suburbs of Tuscon in Arizona’s eight district since 2007, had been voted the most positive person in Congress.
And the ebullient, articulate 40-year-old, who loved riding motor bikes and horses, was hoping that something even more positive was about to come into her life this year.
She and astronaut husband Mark Kelly, married since 2007, were expecting to announce on January 14 that in vitro fertilization treatments had been a success and a new baby was on the way for the Giffords-Kelly family.
But on January 8, Miss Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range by a mentally disturbed man at one of her Congress on Your Corner meet-ups in Arizona and her planned route took a very sharp detour. It’s a miracle she survived; six others did not.
From the beginning of Miss Giffords’ recovery for her speech and physical movement, Mark Kelly decided to film the healing journey, so that his wife would never have any doubt about what she had been through.
Mr Kelly’s footage is the core of the ABC special with Diane Sawyer and an inspiration for brain injury patients. Mr Kelly’s own take on his film project: optimism is a form of healing and hope is a form of love.
The TV special is, in part, a promotion of the book entitled Gabby by Mr Kelly and Miss Giffords. But any presumed ulterior motive quickly fades from thought as viewers watch a shaven Giffords struggle to remember words with her therapists, cry with frustration, then laugh, and even sing the Cyndi Lauper tune “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The power of musical therapy proves extraordinary.
The show reveals a determined woman who has come a long way but has a long way to go. Interviewed sitting close to her husband, Miss Giffords cannot speak in complete sentences although her doctor says that in no way means that the thoughts are not there. Her husband said his greatest hope is that one day she will be able to “string a bunch of sentences together”.
Laughing and healthy looking, she said she has no memory of the day she was shot. She has read about the six people who died and wants to visit each of their families.
Answers are sometimes suggested to her in the interview. In response to her husband’s statement that she is strong, Giffords smilingly repeats “strong, strong, strong”.
Will Miss Giffords return to Congress where she used to navigate 750 events a year? The filing date is next May and Mark Kelly said that only his wife will decide whether to run.
But Gabrielle Gifford’s view about her life and future may best be reflected in her response to Sawyer’s question about possible ill-feeling for her would-be assassin. “No, no, no,” she states emphatically. He was a person who should have gotten help for his mental illness, her husband explains.