Posted by Dan Marries – email
TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - As U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recovers from a bullet wound to her head, her devoted husband, U.S. Navy Captain and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly rarely leaves her side.
Ten days after the shooting that left 6 people dead, and 13 others wounded, Mark Kelly sits down with me for a one on one interview to talk about his wife's miraculous recovery to the moment he thought she was dead.
Every day is a miracle for Mark Kelly, as his wife continues on her long road to recovery. I asked him, "Do you believe in miracles?" Mark answered, ""I do, I do now."
Kelly, in training for the next shuttle mission in April, was at his home in Houston when he got the dreadful call, "Gabby's chief of staff called me explaining what she knew, which at the time wasn't much. I was on a plane in 45 minutes on my way here."
On that flight, Kelly heard the news to hard to bear.
"It was tough and one of the reasons it was tough I had the TV on and then saw that she died for about 20 minutes. So, in hindsight, that's a big mistake and I knew that going in, but it really was a difficult time."
Then he got the news his wife was alive.
"Ah, that's what's been odd about this, so since then everything's been uphill the whole time because we were at the ultimate low and since then, since we found out she didn't die, it's been a gradual improvement every day that's made this somewhat easier."
Does Giffords know what happened to her. Mark says no. "She doesn't. I haven't explained it to her."
I asked Mark if she knows where she is, if she realizes she's in the hospital.
"I think she does, we have told her that so she's definitely aware she's in the hospital, absolutely. I have talked to the doctors about that, they say the best thing to do in this case with this kind of situation is not to tell her about all of it once, but when she starts asking questions about it, just answer the questions."
Giffords isn't able to speak because of a breathing tube in her throat, but Mark is getting her ready for rehab.
"Well, I put her on a schedule for her. I whispered the schedule in her ear and I've told the neurosurgeons so she knows what that is, She's very good with plans and schedules and she's a very hard worker."
Day by day Mark spends hours next to his wife rarely leaving her bedside. I asked him how he passes the time.
"Do you talk to her? Do you sing to her? Do you tell her stories?"
Mark says with a chuckle, "I'm not a good singer, she wouldn't like that. Yeah, I talk to her. I remind her of where she is. I read a lot of the cards and letters she's been receiving or a lot of the messages that I'm receiving. I'll read off my Blackberry from friends and family so we do that. She's obviously had a terrible injury so she's sleeping to recover."
Although every day brings more good news on Gabby's recovery, as with any brain injury, her future remains uncertain. A scary thought for Mark.
"Sure, yeah absolutely. I think about it but I'm a very positive person and so is she and she is not going to let this thing that happened take her out. I mean she is going to make a full recovery. I don't know what the future holds for her, what she's going to want to do, but she's a fighter."
Kelly's future as the next shuttle commander is also up in the air. He's scheduled to make the historic final shuttle trip to the space station in April.
"You know, I haven't had a lot of time to think about that but you're right, it will certainly change our future plans in some way, I don't now how but there will be some changes even with regards to my immediate future. But I don't have time to worry about that at this point."
While Mark focuses his energy on Gabby he knows the outpouring of love and support from the community is having a healing effect, "well it's just incredible to see how much she was loved by this community. How much of an impact this tragedy has had on everybody here, that they're willing to come out and the cards, letters, support and the pictures that have been put out there. Yesterday I grabbed one of the teddy bears and now Gabby's holding on to it, hopefully they don't think I was stealing it. She loved this community, she loved the people here and I spent a lot of time here but now I can really see why."
Mark also draws a lot of strength from his faith and the prayers he says for her as he kneels by her side, "she squeezes my hand, so she knows I'm there. When her Rabbi, when Rabbi Aaron comes in she knows she's there. It's very important, it's very important to her too, I think she's drawing on that now and that's one of the things that's going to get her back to full recovery."
From the range of emotions of knowing that she's alive and fighting to dealing with the deep sorrow of the tragedy itself, Kelly has experienced emotional highs and lows since the that day, "she survived and I'm confident will recover but there's six people that will not, including Christina Green and Gabe Zimmerman you know, very young it's just not fair."
And what about Jared Loughner, the accused gunman? Kelly says he doesn't think about him much.
"I was really angry the first few days now I tend to not even focus on that anymore. I really appreciate that Tucson has just come together to help me and my family and the families of the other victims, I mean I can't imaging how they could have done anything else, so on behalf of Gabby, thank you."
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