I watched Diane Sawyer’s exclusive interview with Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Giffords and her husband Mark Kelley on ABC TV’s 20/20 last night. It was very moving! And it was wonderful to see the progress that Congresswoman Giffords has made since she was shot in the head last January.
Her husband Mark said he believes that optimism is a form of healing and hope a form of love. He said, “You can’t have too much hope“. Sawyer shared how Gabby’s husband Mark and her mother Gloria formed an indomitable alliance of optimism.
At one point Kelley told Gabby that she was “beaten up, but not beaten“. And her mother Gloria shared a spiritual moment she had, thinking of a Bible verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and experiencing light. Both of them have faithfully been at Giffords’ side in the hospital and during this recovery process, patiently, lovingly giving encouragement and support.
It was apparent to me in this interview that optimism, hope, love, spirituality, and feeling God’s presence are contributing to a remarkable recovery. While it’s clear that things have been difficult and more progress is needed, it was wonderful to see Giffords walking, talking, smiling, joking and singing. I especially liked seeing her smiling.
The doctors and therapists, who have taken such good care of Giffords, have also expressed optimism and hope. In the interview Sawyer shared how a doctor said, “sometimes it’s wise just to acknowledge the existence of miracles“.
Giffords’ progress shouldn’t surprise us. A study¹ conducted in Michigan a few years ago by Brigid Waldron-Perrine, Ph.D. at Wayne State University and recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology found that patients with traumatic brain injuries who “felt a connection with a higher power” experienced better rehabilitation outcomes.
One of Giffords’ therapists said she learned in two days what others take months to learn. And she is making more progress.
It was so heartwarming to see Giffords in this interview. You could see her expressing the qualities and character that she is known for. You could see her smile, her humor, her determination, her caring for others, and her zest for life. And she talked of the future, with possibilities of having a family and of returning to Congress. I wouldn’t be surprised.
This remarkable family has been through a lot. But I’m grateful that they have shared their experience. We can learn a lot from this. I hope we do.