Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords struggled to regain her speech after being shot in the head by an attacker, but Giffords’ voice—one of determination and optimism— has never left her.
In the final chapter of her new book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, Giffords writes about her efforts to overcome the physical and cognitive impairments she was left with after the shooting. She also read the chapter in an audio recording paired with the book, giving her the opportunity to personally speak to the public who has supported her so strongly during the past year.
“Hope and faith,” she writes. “You have to have hope and faith.”
The chapter is short and the sentences give a sense of the struggle Giffords still has with speaking, but through the words Giffords’ spirit shines. Though she helped husband Mark Kelly compile the anecdotes and memories in the earlier chapters of the book, this chapter is hers alone, written with no help from Kelly or contributor Jeffrey Zaslow.
“Long ways to go,” she writes of her recovery. “Grateful to survive. It’s frustrating. Mentally hard. Hard work. I’m trying.”
In the 11 months since the shooting, Giffords has undergone intensive physical and speech therapy, as her brain struggles to “rewire” itself, relearn speech and control movement on her right side.
In just a few hundred words, Giffords conveys the difficulty of the struggle.
“Everything I do reminds me of that horrible day. Just rolling onto my side is hard. Hard to sleep at night. Reminds me of how badly I was hurt.”
Listen to an excerpt from the final chapter of “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope”
Giffords, however, is persistent in her optimism.
“It was hard,” she writes, “but I’m alive.”
At another point, she writes, “I’m trying. Trying so hard to get better. Regain what I’ve lost.”
With just six months to go before the deadline for filing for re-election, when Giffords will have to decide on her future as a politician, one thing is clear: Giffords is a survivor, and she is getting better.
“I will get stronger,” she writes. “I will return.”
On Tuesday the congresswoman also released an audio recording directly for her Southern Arizona constituents.
“I miss you, I miss Tucson, the mountains, blue skies, even the heat,” Giffords says in the recording.
“It has been a hard year – for all of us. Thinking of that day makes me sad. Six people died. Six innocent people. So many people hurt. There is lot to say. I will speak better. I want to get back to work. Representing Arizona is my honor.”