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  • Pat Mitchell: That day,

  • January 8, 2011, began like all others.

  • You were both doing the work that you love.

  • You were meeting with constituents,

  • which is something that you loved doing

  • as a congresswoman,

  • and Mark, you were happily preparing

  • for your next space shuttle.

  • And suddenly, everything that you had planned

  • or expected in your lives

  • was irrevocably changed forever.

  • Mark Kelly: Yeah, it's amazing,

  • it's amazing how everything can change

  • for any of us in an instant.

  • People don't realize that.

  • I certainly didn't.

  • Gabby Giffords: Yes.

  • MK: And on that Saturday morning,

  • I got this horrible phone call

  • from Gabby's chief of staff.

  • She didn't have much other information.

  • She just said, "Gabby was shot."

  • A few minutes later, I called her back

  • and I actually thought for a second,

  • well, maybe I just imagined getting this phone call.

  • I called her back, and that's when she told me

  • that Gabby had been shot in the head.

  • And from that point on,

  • I knew that our lives were going to be a lot different.

  • PM: And when you arrived at the hospital,

  • what was the prognosis that they gave you

  • about Gabby's condition and what recovery, if any,

  • you could expect?

  • MK: Well, for a gunshot wound to the head

  • and a traumatic brain injury,

  • they typically can't tell you much.

  • Every injury is different. It's not predictable

  • like often a stroke might be predictable,

  • which is another TBI kind of injury.

  • So they didn't know how long Gabby would be in a coma,

  • didn't know when that would change

  • and what the prognosis would be.

  • PM: Gabby, has your recovery

  • been an effort to create a new Gabby Giffords

  • or reclaim the old Gabby Giffords?

  • GG: The new one -- better, stronger, tougher.

  • (Applause)

  • MK: That to say,

  • when you look at the picture behind us,

  • to come back from that kind of injury

  • and come back strong and stronger than ever

  • is a really tough thing to do.

  • I don't know anybody

  • that's as tough as my wonderful wife right here.

  • (Applause)

  • PM: And what were the first signs

  • that recovery was not only going to be possible

  • but you were going to have some semblance

  • of the life that you and Gabby had planned?

  • MK: Well, the first thing, for me, was

  • Gabby was still kind of almost unconscious,

  • but she did something when she was in the ICU hospital bed

  • that she used to do when we might

  • be out to dinner at a restaurant,

  • in that she pulled my ring off

  • and she flipped it from one finger to the next,

  • and at that point I knew

  • that she was still in there.

  • PM: And there were certain words, too.

  • Didn't she surprise you with words in the beginning?

  • MK: Well, it was tough in the beginning. GG: What? What? Chicken. Chicken. Chicken.

  • MK: Yeah, that was it.

  • For the first month, that was the extent

  • of Gabby's vocabulary.

  • For some reason, she has aphasia,

  • which is difficulty with communication.

  • She latched on to the word "chicken,"

  • which isn't the best but certainly is not the worst.

  • (Laughter)

  • And we were actually worried

  • it could have been a lot worse than that.

  • PM: Gabby, what's been the toughest challenge

  • for you during this recovery?

  • GG: Talking. Really hard. Really.

  • MK: Yeah, with aphasia, Gabby knows what she wants to say,

  • she just can't get it out.

  • She understands everything,

  • but the communication is just very difficult

  • because when you look at the picture,

  • the part of your brain where those communication centers are

  • are on the left side of your head,

  • which is where the bullet passed through.

  • PM: So you have to do a very dangerous thing:

  • speak for your wife.

  • MK: I do.

  • It might be some of the most dangerous things I've ever done.

  • PM: Gabby, are you optimistic

  • about your continuing recovery --

  • walking, talking,

  • being able to move your arm and leg?

  • GG: I'm optimistic. It will be a long, hard haul,

  • but I'm optimistic.

  • PM: That seems to be the number one characteristic of Gabby Giffords,

  • wouldn't you say? (Applause)

  • MK: Gabby's always been really optimistic.

  • She works incredibly hard every day.

  • GG: On the treadmill, walked on my treadmill,

  • Spanish lessons, French horn.

  • MK: It's only my wife who could be --

  • and if you knew her before she was injured,

  • you would kind of understand this --

  • somebody who could be injured

  • and have such a hard time communicating

  • and meets with a speech therapist,

  • and then about a month ago, she says,

  • "I want to learn Spanish again."

  • PM: Well, let's take a little closer look

  • at the wife, and this was even before

  • you met Gabby Giffords.

  • And she's on a motor scooter there,

  • but it's my understanding that's a very tame image

  • of what Gabby Giffords was like growing up.

  • MK: Yeah, Gabby, she used to race motorcycles.

  • So that's a scooter, but she had --

  • well, she still has a BMW motorcycle.

  • PM: Does she ride it? MK: Well, that's a challenge

  • with not being able to move her right arm,

  • but I think with something I know about, Velcro,

  • we might be able to get her back on the bike,

  • Velcro her right hand up onto the handlebar.

  • PM: I have a feeling we might see that picture next,

  • Gabby.

  • But you meet, you're already decided

  • that you're going to dedicate your life to service.

  • You're going into the military

  • and eventually to become an astronaut.

  • So you meet.

  • What attracts you to Gabby?

  • MK: Well, when we met, oddly enough,

  • it was the last time we were in Vancouver,

  • about 10 years ago. We met in Vancouver,

  • at the airport, on a trip that we were both taking

  • to China,

  • that I would actually, from my background,

  • I would call it a boondoggle.

  • Gabby wouldGG: Fact-finding mission.

  • MK: She would call it an important fact-finding mission.

  • She was a state senator at the time,

  • and we met here, at the airport,

  • before a trip to China.

  • PM: Would you describe it as a whirlwind romance?

  • GG: No, no, no.

  • (Laughter)

  • A good friend.

  • MK: Yeah, we were friends for a long time.

  • GG: Yes. (Laughter)

  • MK: And then she invited me on, about a year or so later,

  • she invited me on a date.

  • Where'd we go, Gabby?

  • GG: Death row.

  • MK: Yes. Our first date was to death row

  • at the Florence state prison in Arizona,

  • which was just outside Gabby's state senate district.

  • They were working on some legislation

  • that had to do with crime and punishment

  • and capital punishment in the state of Arizona.

  • So she couldn't get anybody else to go with her,

  • and I'm like, "Of course I want to go to death row."

  • So that was our first date.

  • We've been together ever since. GG: Yes.

  • PM: Well, that might have contributed to the reason

  • that Gabby decided to marry you.

  • You were willing to go to death row, after all.

  • MK: I guess.

  • PM: Gabby, what did make you want to marry Mark?

  • GG: Um, good friends. Best friends. Best friends.

  • MK: I thought we always

  • had a very special relationship.

  • We've gone through some tough times

  • and it's only made it stronger. GG: Stronger.

  • PM: After you got married, however,

  • you continued very independent lives.

  • Actually, you didn't even live together.

  • MK: We had one of those commuter marriages.

  • In our case, it was Washington, D.C., Houston,

  • Tucson.

  • Sometimes we'd go clockwise,

  • sometimes counterclockwise,

  • to all those different places,

  • and we didn't really live together

  • until that Saturday morning.

  • Within an hour of Gabby being shot,

  • I was on an airplane to Tucson,

  • and that was the moment

  • where that had changed things.

  • PM: And also, Gabby, you had run for Congress

  • after being a state senator

  • and served in Congress for six years.

  • What did you like best

  • about being in Congress?

  • GG: Fast pace. Fast pace.

  • PM: Well it was the way you did it. GG: Yes, yes. Fast pace.

  • PM: I'm not sure people would describe it entirely that way.

  • (Laughter)

  • MK: Yeah, you know, legislation is often

  • at a colossally slow pace,

  • but my wife, and I have to admit,

  • a lot of other members of Congress that I know,

  • work incredibly hard.

  • I mean, Gabby would run around like a crazy person,

  • never take a day off,

  • maybe a half a day off a month,

  • and whenever she was awake she was working,

  • and she really, really thrived on that,

  • and still does today. GG: Yes. Yes.

  • PM: Installing solar panels on the top of her house,

  • I have to say.

  • So after the tragic incident, Mark,

  • you decided to resign

  • your position as an astronaut,

  • even though you were supposed to take

  • the next space mission.

  • Everybody, including Gabby,

  • talked you into going back,

  • and you did end up taking.

  • MK: Kind of. The day after Gabby was injured,

  • I called my boss, the chief astronaut,

  • Dr. Peggy Whitson, and I said,

  • "Peggy, I know I'm launching in space

  • in three months from now.

  • Gabby's in a coma. I'm in Tucson.

  • You've got to find a replacement for me."

  • So I didn't actually resign from being an astronaut,

  • but I gave up my job and they found a replacement.

  • Months later, maybe about two months later,

  • I started about getting my job back,

  • which is something,

  • when you become this primary caregiver person,

  • which some people in the audience here

  • have certainly been in that position,

  • it's a challenging role but at some point

  • you've got to figure out when you're going to get your life back,

  • and at the time, I couldn't ask Gabby

  • if she wanted me to go fly in the space shuttle again.

  • But I knew she wasGG: Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • MK: She was the biggest supporter of my career,

  • and I knew it was the right thing to do.

  • PM: And yet I'm trying to imagine, Mark,

  • what that was like, going off onto a mission,

  • one presumes safely, but it's never a guarantee,

  • and knowing that Gabby is

  • MK: Well not only was she still in the hospital,

  • on the third day of that flight,

  • literally while I was

  • rendezvousing with the space station,