Gabby, Are You Feeling the Love?

5 years ago

I watched, I cried, I hugged and I smiled. Oh, my, did I smile. I knew I liked Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. I suspected she and I had more in common than just that day in Tucson. I just didn't realize in how many ways she and I and our families overlapped until I saw her interview with Diane Sawyer last night.

The similarities are stunning, down to the things we find funny. Both of our husbands were taken with the hospital pseudonyms we were given. J. S. Lasso and A. Jar ... we were quite the pair. We announced our return to the world over food -- Gabby demanding toast, I a plate of scrambled eggs, each of our husbands knowing that the attitude with which the orders were placed heralded the return of the feisty woman they'd married.

Neither one of the men would change or hyphenate his name after marrying... and they said the same thing, albeit 30 some years apart:"Ain't happenin'. No way." I'm serious, they used the same words. The news media have filmed each of us walking to our mailbox. I remember when that walk was all I could do for the rest of the day. It helped to think about the progress I've made; I could see myself in Gabby's stride.

We are both surrounded by love and positive energy and songs from Bringing Up Baby. I'm learning to walk, she's learning to pucker... it's different and the same and has its own challenges and frustrations. Hearing Mark say that "optimism is a form of healing .. hope is a form of love" is like listening to my own husband tell me that whining will get me no where and that high expectations show that he knows I am in here, hiding beneath the disability.

Rehab is hard. Just ask anyone who's ever done it. You cry, you hug, you drop a bottle of water off the table and laugh at the absurdity of it all and then you suck it up and get back to work. Watching Gabby and her amazing speech therapist share the reality, the ridiculous and the sublime, felt very real to me. Her struggle is more profound than mine, but our reactions are remarkably congruent.

She's in there, it's obvious in her eyes and her concentration and her tears when the words just won't come. She's feeling BAD and she's not afraid to say it. She's upbeat without being saccharine. Her husband, like mine, will do (his) best to protect her in whatever she wants to do.

Most important, they both believe that you can't have too much hope.

That's a really good mantra as time passes and recovery seems painfully slow. I'm saving the recording of this interview for a while. I'm going to want to watch the very end a few more times. The camera focuses on Gabby's face but my eyes go to Mark, the husband, who almost lost her, who has her back and is brave as she is tough, and who looks at her with such joy, such wonder, such admiration, such respect, such love that it's hard not to smile through my tears.

Such is life right now. As Gabby sang, though, tomorrow's only a day away.

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