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'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. Jack

    CNN–Don't forget YOU were one of the first to erraneously report this. Surprised he even gave you an interview. Good God.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Jack –
      Forget You – vote for the people that can control the news – I say state run news would have prevented this.
      No one would have known what happened and we can have our guns and yell FIRE in theatres.
      Do something that affects lives and rid the world of crosshair rhetoric for once.
      Seriously – forget you – and forget her too!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anti-Dexter

    My name is Dexter, everyone look at me! Look at me! Why wont you look at me!?

    January 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    Cesar? Ceeeeeeeesar?

    Where's my Latin lovemuffin when I need him?

    Btw, Dexter, I've got you in my crosshairs, too. Go ahead, hit me with you best shot: fire awaaaaaay!

    January 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy


    Meant to say @Dexter!

    My bad, too!

    January 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Howerz

    Dexter, sounds like you have nothing better to do and guess what. Who needs a gun. I have a sniper, axe and a nuke 😛

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. :P

    Ok, I'm getting sick and tired of hearing Dexter ask, that lame question. And the caps-lock thing, it looks like you're just a bully who insults little things when he's losing an argument. It's almost like watching a grown man throw a tantrum-entertaining, but just kind of sad as well.

    January 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. :P

    Ummm... I guess I'll be the one to say this. Dexter, what you're doing right now is immature and you're making yourself look like a complete A** right now. You actually might be an a**, but I wouldn't know. With you're insulting comments on how people type stuff, I can guess you were looking for a scapegoat when you were losing an argument, like now. Your comments are like watching a grown man throw a tantrum-funny, but actually extremely pitiful.

    January 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sally

    all of yall R RETARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |

    no one will care in a month or two..

    does anyone care about the people at virgina tech still?

    January 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |

    Sarah Palin did do this. She DID this.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathy

    I also heard erroneous reports that she had been killed – on CNN!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Spencer J. Atkinson, PFTLD

    People all over the world are hearing about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' remarkable recovery from a bullet to the brain as more and more news media are calling it a remarkable event. I was just wondering why her survival and recovery is being called remarkable instead of a divine miracle. I remember when Captain Chesley Sullenberger landed a plane on the Hudson River the news media called it a miracle, until this day; it is known as "The Miracle on the Hudson". I remember sometime after that there was a car bomb in Times Square full of explosives, which failed to detonate and the news media said we were lucky. Now, we have Congresswoman Giffords, shot in the head and the bullet passed through her brain; she survived being shot and is recovering as if she had an ordinary blow to the head; the news media calls it remarkable. Why do the news media choose to call this event remarkable and not miraculous? Is it because Congresswoman Giffords' husband doesn't want it labeled miraculous or perhaps the Congresswoman herself doesn’t want it labeled miraculous or perhaps it’s the news media's way of pleasing the evil of this world. In any case, many people might find this confusing as to how a miracle should be classified; however, I'm not confused about it because I don't gamble, I can't lose if I call it miraculous. If I simply say, "It is remarkable", then I'm betting against the existence of God and if I believe in His existence then I'm belittling the power of God, therefore offending God. I wouldn't take a chance that there isn't a place called hell or a wrath of God, when I can play it safe by saying that Congresswoman Giffords recovery is a miraculous event. Too bad the news media and those who agree with this event being simply remarkable or extraordinary can't see that they're gambling against God unnecessarily and if they lose, it will be a devastating lost.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |

      god probbly saved her in hopes she would turn repulican and come to her senses

      January 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adam

    It's sad the squeeze of a persons index finger can take away the life of another. The victim has no fighting chance, it's just lights out becuase a mad man says so.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DerrickAnthony

    Didn't you guys get the message that was given at the Memorial Service?
    I'm hoping we will all SHUT UP and listen to what is most important for this country, at this juncture.
    People, get a grip on your emotions – you're appearing WEAK!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Isaac

    It's funny how every time a tragic shooting happens, people say it's "just an isolated incident." But by definition, if something happens over and over and over, it isn't isolated. Society has no choice but to accept that there will always be crazy people. But society can choose to prevent those people from acquiring automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
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