My mind is swimming in a sea of thoughts right now and my emotions are being tested. I’m watching the TV special on Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, on ABC. Can you blame me for being affected? It’s really amazing me. Every minute. Gabby, of course, is recovering from a devastating brain injury that typically kills 90-percent of those who suffer it. Last January she was shot outside a Supermarket in Tuscon, Arizona, by a mentally ill man. Six people died, including a little girl. It’s so incredibly sad.
Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband of four years and a space shuttle commander, has been right by her side like any loyal, good man should be. He kept his countenance up for her sake over the past 10 months, preaching optimism and hope and encouragement every time he was with Gabby in the hospital. Gabby’s mom was doing the same. Their courage and hope were critical factors in Gabby’s remarkable recovery. Another factor? Faith in God. More on that in a few paragraphs. Gabby had to relearn how to move, how to walk, how to put together critical thoughts and… most key… how to speak. Tonight, ABC showed her first interview and I was certainly impressed. She has come so far.
The special just ended. Gabby is determined to get better. Over this past year I’ve tried to follow along with news updates about Giffords. Her recovery is inspirational. But tonight the audience got to see video footage shot by Mark Kelly during Gabby’s recovery. The footage spanned from the day after she was shot to the days she first started putting a complete sentence together this summer. She still can’t put two sentences together but she’s really close. It’s heartbreaking to see a vibrant 40-year-old woman confined to a hospital bed on one hand, but it’s encouraging to see hospital staff and therapists come alongside Gabby and patiently, lovingly help her. One therapist played her guitar for Gabby. Another sang songs. Music played a big role in helping her learn to speak again. It’s a powerful thing. The speech therapists showed amazing patience and determination, one even offered her shoulder to cry on when Gabby grew too frustrated. My heart broke.
Faith. Where was faith in all this? Gabby grew up in a Jewish family. Mark was (and is) Catholic. When the shooting happened, faith played a critical role in the hours and days of shock that followed. Kelly stayed in constant prayer for his wife. From listening to him talk, I think he still has a spiritual worldview. How deep, how active, I don’t know. But Gabby’s mom, on her hurried way to the hospital the night after the shooting, had an even more interesting story. She kept hearing a phrase repeated over and over in her head as she drove. It said, “Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. Be STILL and KNOW that I am God.” A peace fell over her when she realized it was God, speaking from Psalm 46:10. When I heard Gabby’s mom say that, I was floored. Not because it is something new, but instead because I recognized the hand of God working in the midst of tragedy. So many people ask, “Where is God?” when tragedy strikes. But when they turn to Him, they’ll find He’s right there.
I’m not sure where Gabby was in her spiritual life before the incident. Nor Mark and their respective families. But they must all see the hand of God in Gabby’s recovery. I did.