If anyone tuned in to ABC on Monday night, they had the chance to see the first interview of Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot almost a year ago. Although the story of her survival made all sorts of headlines in January, the story of her recovery is even more amazing.
Gabby Giffords was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 for the state of Arizona and has served in that position since. She was known as a rising star of the Democratic Party. Giffords was known to be enthusiastic, down to earth and animated in a way that is rarely seen in politics.
It came as a shock when this optimistic “down home girl” was shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2011. Although the shooter was unsuccessful in killing the young representative, he did kill six others and injured 13 more. However, as horrific as this event was, it was not enough to stop Giffords.
Giffords was lucky that the bullet’s trajectory did not include the mid-line of the brain. Any lower or higher and the bullet would have left Giffords fated to death or a life in a bed. As it is, she is able to speak and comprehend what is said to her and despite being partially paralyzed in her right arm and leg, she is working on walking around without help. However, her speech is also stilted and she has to work with therapists every day to gain back more and more of her missing words.
But this is no deterrent to her determined family and indomitable spirit. Her husband, Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, has been by her side throughout the entire process. He hopes his wife will make a full recovery, given enough time.
Her story truly is miraculous. Not only did she survive being shot in the head — a feat to which few can lay claim — she has not let that stop or stifle her passion for life or her optimistic approach to challenges. Where most would have given up in their struggles for speech and mobility, she overcomes them with grace and humor, at times using silly songs as her way of communicating.
Her story of hope and achievement is truly an inspiration and I will be honest enough to say that I did not get through the whole interview without shedding a couple of tears. It is a rare person who can overcome such trials with such grace and it really makes us look at the petty problems of our own lives and be thankful that we do not know the life-altering pain of an event like this.
More than that, it is moving to see someone sacrifice so much to stand up for what he or she believes is right. Gabby Giffords really is an inspiration and I can’t help but think of how amazing it would be if everyone were so optimistic. It is no secret that bad things happen, but if we, as a school, as a community, as a nation, can handle it with the same enthusiasm and grace as Gabby, I think that we would be on the road to a better world.