For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer.
January 19th, 2011
12:41 PM ET

For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed

Mark Kelly went into the bathroom and broke down.

He had just heard erroneous news reports that his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, had died after being shot in the head at a political event outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store that day, January 8. His daughters cried and his mother nearly screamed, he recalled.  "To hear that she died is just, it's devastating to me," Kelly told Diane Sawyer in an interview broadcast Tuesday night on ABC.

Then, wracked with grief, Kelly said he called his wife's chief of staff, who told him that the reports couldn't be true, that Giffords' mother was with her. Giffords was alive, the chief of staff reassured him.

Kelly, an astronaut, recalled the harrowing 10 days after the shooting rampage and his anguish about the people who died, including a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and one of his wife's staffers. He also spoke about his romance with the congresswoman, their early dating days, and what makes him believe she will pull through.

Kelly hasn't left his wife's side. He holds her hand and falls asleep next to her every night. "I do talk to her, I tell her how long she's been here (in the hospital)," he said. "I tell her I love her."

Giffords has not only stunned the world by surviving a bullet to the brain - only 10% of people with that injury live - but her recovery has been marked with inspiring and emotional moments. Her husband believes she recognizes him. Giffords plays with his wedding ring, Kelly said. She'll move it up and down his finger, take it off and put it on her own finger, sometimes moving it to her thumb. The other day, he said, she was tired, so she took it off his hand, and handed it back to him. Another day, Kelly said, his wife even reached up to give him a neck massage for 10 minutes.

There is an inscription that he put in her ring before they married in 2007: "You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been."

Read the Times' 2007 account of their wedding and CNN.com's reflection on the event, including the memorable brief rain that happened during the ceremony.

Giffords will reportedly be moved on Friday to a rehabilitation facility to be treated by surgeons who specialize in patients with bullet wounds to the brain, according to an e-mail from her family.

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Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. brian

    guns are meant to kill things. If more people are armed though they may intend to use it for defensive purposes they can get angry overreact and kill people with their guns.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rhea Alberts

    We should stop pointing fingers at the tea party and Palin (I don't like either, by the way) and review how much violence with guns is shown on prime time tv and in most movies that our young people view over and over again.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    At least he only used a gun and didn't walk in there with a bunch of explosives tied around his waste.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. zeke

    My thoughts and prayers are with Giffords and her family at this time. It is a shame that someone would use this page to blabber political agendas. A little less extremism would do this country much good right now...

    January 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mt

    Soon Gabby will giving a speech quoting Mark Twain's famous line about exaggerated reports. And now Mark Kelly is one of the few who knows how Sarah Brady must have felt when the media made a similar error about her spouse.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. muse

    Dont ban guns ... but no-one should be allowed to buy any ammo without a federal licence and only for a certain amount. Collectors dont need ammo only the weapon... so ammo supply should be rationed and only availalble to registered owners. Those who would make their own .. well that would still be a minority.. Peace!

    January 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jacknyd

    What needs to be done is change the laws on the media. This freedom of speech garbage has got to stop. Talk about incompetent Journalist. to report without a doctor or coroners confirmation that she is dead is one of the worst things anyone can do. They should be FIRED and anything less is in my view a crime. Imagine someone telling you or me our love one has just been shot and killed., only to find out latter it was untrue. Whomever started that rumor should be jailed, If someone says something remotely wrong people are UP in the air about it like Imus with the nappy headed statement, Lost his job was fined . SO what should happen to the journalist who reported this.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joel

    CNN, what is the point of allowing comments? It's mostly just howler monkeys screeching at one another, fre, there's almost never anything useful said. Just turn them off.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Charles

    Regardless of political affiliation, Ms. Giffords seems to be a very caring and dedicated public official. Let us all pray for her continued recovery and stop the gun and political debate.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. frdrck

    has anyone even noticed the similarity in appearance between Mark Kelly and Jared Loughner?

    January 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. frdrck

    has anyone even noticed the similarity in appearance between Mark Kelly and Jared Loughner? they could pass for brothers.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
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