Earlier today at a Tucson, Arizona press conference, doctors reported that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords smiles at her husband. They also reported that they had completed another surgery over the weekend, this one to remove bone fragments from Giffords’ eye sockets. She’s back to the same baseline as she was before the procedure, and they are hopeful that soon they can begin on the next phase of Giffords’ long road of recovery: rehabilitation.
Since learning of the shootings, Giffords’ astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, has remained by her bedside virtually the entire time, though he did take a break to attend Wednesday’s memorial service with President and first lady Obama. He also attended the funeral of the youngest victim of the shooting, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
The only other break the dedicated husband has taken was to visit with ABC’s Diane Sawyer with whom he shared some intimate details concerning Giffords’ recovery, as well as a surprising comment that indicates Kelly is a man of uncommon compassion.
Kelly told the ABC anchorwoman that he can tell his wife recognizes him. “She stuck her hand up on the side of my face this morning,” he said. “I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t do that for somebody else.” According to Kelly, the congresswoman actually gave him a neck rub for about 10 minutes. “[It is] so typical of her,” Kelly said. “She’s in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage.”
Later in the interview, Kelly mentions that he’s not been keeping up with the news surrounding the Arizona shooting and knows little about alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner and his possible motives. He did, however, tell Sawyer that he was open to meeting with Loughner’s parents. “I’d probably see them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s their fault. It’s not the parents’ fault. I’d like to think I’m a person that’s somewhat forgiving. And, I mean, they’ve got to be hurting in this situation as much as anybody.”
That Kelly is able to show such compassion impressed me. Few men in his position would be willing to see any close associate of a man suspected of trying to murder his wife, much less that man’s parents. But Kelly seems to realize that the Loughners are likely hurting in a unique way, in a way only parents of such a man could possibly be hurting. To recognize that pain, and then describe it as being as much as anyone else in this entire situation shows uncommon empathy. He told Sawyer that being the father of two, he’s able to have a certain level of understanding of the nightmare that the Loughners are likely living.
“Gabby’s got a long road ahead of her,” Kelly told Sawyer. “We know that the recovery from these kind of injuries isn’t measured in days and weeks. It’s more like weeks and months. And so she’s got a long, tough road ahead of her. But, you know, she’s a really, really tough woman.”
A tough woman who is married to a special man who seems as equipped as any to help her with the challenges which lay ahead.