The End: My Words in the Tucson Courthouse

5 years ago

Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Commander Kelly, and I ended our statements with the same thought: we are finished with you.

It's pretty cool to be on an astronaut's wavelength. That's about the only smile I can find right now. Justice ran its course. The state will not be prosecuting. The shooter will never be free.

It's not enough. It's all there is.

I'm posting the words I spoke at the sentencing hearing in the Special Proceedings Courtroom in the Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona this morning. At a podium, thoughtfully askew so that I didn't have to turn my back on the defendant, with my husband beside me and Judge Larry Burns in front of me, I said my piece.

I'd been warned to remember that this would be part of the public record. I'd been warned to think of the long-term consequences of my words. I'd been warned and advised and I listened and thought and procrastinated and then sat at the keyboard last night and began to type.... and cry... and shake.

Christina's parents don't want her mentioned in the same room with her murderer; I respected that. I left out the description of her excitement, her enthusiasm, her pride.... but those of you who've been here before know all about that. I didn't need to bring it up; she was in everyone's heart all morning.

I'm not sure that I stormed away from the podium, nor that anger and resentment were my emotions, as a tweet suggested. I will admit to being riled up, and to turning away from him with strength and power. Resentment sounds so petty in this context; I know I was not small minded.

It's in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

What I know now is just what I knew twenty-two months ago: Gabby Giffords and I are married to very handsome, very passionate, very wonderful men. I know that short, Jewish, girls from New York do get shot, and they do learn to live with the unthinkable.

They do it with the help of their families and their friends and their communities -- in real life and on-line. Thank you, each and every one of you, for being by my side. I couldn't have done it without you.


Victim Statement at Sentencing Hearing

I don't want to be standing here. I don't want to be here at all.

There is very little that is inspiring, or uplifting, or joyful here.

This is an awful situation for each and every one of us.

And it all revolves around you.

That Saturday morning was filled with sunshine and smiles and excitement. We were gathered to participate in the process. We had made time in our lives “to tell your Congresswoman how government could work better for you.”

For You. You were a part of society then.

Your Congresswoman.

For whom you could have voted.... or not.

For whom you could have campaigned..... or not.

It was an opportunity to witness democracy in action. We brought our wives, our husbands, our children, our friends' children.

You brought a gun.

We've been told about your demons, about the illness that skewed your thinking.

It's a painful saga, a tale of missed opportunities and lack of support, of the appalling absence of attention to your behavior. Your parents, your schools, your community –- they all failed you.

That is all true, but it is not expiation. It is not enough. There are still those pesky facts.

You pointed a weapon at me... and shot me... three times. You turned a civics lesson into a nightmare.

For the last 22 months, in the hope that, somehow, I would feel better, I've wanted to take you by the shoulders and shake you... and scream at you... as if that would help.

This is what I have, instead.

I have been privileged to watch justice in action.

I have a platform from which to do good, and I am using it.

I have connections, new and old, and they are deeper and lovelier than ever before.

And now, I will walk out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life.... and I will not think of you again.

Image: nicandx via Flickr

a/b from The Burrow at

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