PHOENIX (AP) - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords vows to return to
Congress in a new book that details months of intense therapy and
her emotional battle to come to terms with what happened when a
gunman opened fire in front of a Tucson grocery store.
The memoir, called "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," is
the most personal and detailed look yet at Giffords' struggle over
the past 10 months to relearn how to walk and talk, and her painful
discovery that 12 others were wounded and six killed during the
Jan. 8 attack.
The Associated Press purchased an advanced copy of the book. It
is set for release on Nov. 15.
The book is written by Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark
Kelly, but Giffords delivers the last chapter - a single page of
short sentences and phrases entitled "Gabby's Voice" in which she
says her goal is to get back to Congress.
"I will get stronger. I will return," she vows. Giffords, 40,
stunned colleagues by appearing on the U.S. House floor in
Washington on Aug. 1 to vote for the debt ceiling deal, but she has
focused most of her time on her recovery at TIRR Memorial Hermann,
a rehabilitation center in Houston.
In the book, Kelly recalls trying to tell his wife several times
what had happened that June 8 morning, when Giffords was shot in
the head while meeting constituents. But she didn't fully
understand until March 12.
Kelly asked Giffords if she remembered being shot, and she
replied that she did. When he asked what she remembered about it,
she said three words: "Shot. Shocked. Scary."
Later that same day, Kelly was reading to her from a New York
Times article about her recovery and skipped over a paragraph that
said six others were killed. Giffords, following along, knew he
left something out and pushed him to tell her what it was.
Kelly writes that after she learned of the deaths, Giffords was
overcome with emotion and had trouble getting through her therapy.
That night as they lay in bed, she told Kelly that she felt awful
about all the people who were killed. He held her as she cried.
Six months later, after being released from the Houston hospital
to Kelly's home 25 miles away, Giffords wanted to know who had been
killed that day. He warned her that it would be tough on her
because she knew two of the victims.
He started by telling her that her staff member Gabe Zimmerman
died, which caused her to moan and cry in a wave of emotion. Then
he told her about her friend, federal Judge John Roll, and the four
other people she didn't know. Finally, he told her that Christina
Taylor-Green, a 9-year-old girl born on Sept. 11, 2001, was among
After she got the news, Kelly writes that he held her as she
processed the information and wept.
Kelly recounted the agonizing moments when several media outlets
inaccurately reported that Giffords was dead, then described
experiencing hope when he learned she was alive and being treated
at a Tucson hospital.
When Kelly first saw Giffords after the shooting, he wrote that
he was shocked at her state: She was in a coma with her head
partially shaved and bandaged, her face black and blue, her body
connected to a bunch of tubes. He told her how much he loved her
and that she was going to survive.
He also describes the early days in Giffords' recovery and rehab
in Texas, saying that the darkest moment came when Giffords
panicked because she realized she couldn't talk. Her eyes were wide
with fear and she was crying uncontrollably as Kelly tried his best
to comfort her and assure her that she would get better.
The book describes lighter moments, like when President George
H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, visited Giffords at the Texas
hospital. Giffords kept replying to Bush with the only word she was
able to say: "chicken." At another point, a specialist showed her
various politicians to see if she recognized people. When she saw
former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, she said: "Messin'
As she progressed, Kelly said Giffords learned to talk again,
reciting the U.S. Constitution and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I
Have a Dream" speech.
The book reveals that because of her injuries, Giffords has lost
50 percent of her vision in both eyes.
Kelly also reveals that the couple was quietly trying to have a
baby. Giffords had undergone several rounds of fertility treatments
in the last few years and was hoping to be pregnant early in 2011.