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Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head in January, released her memoir Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope (Scribner, 307 pages, $26.99) this week.
While the shooting is the central event of the book, its really a love story about the relationship between Giffords and her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly [pictured below with his wife and ABC’s Diane Sawyer]. Indeed, Kelly is listed as the co-author. Here are five moving revelations about their relationship from the book:
1. They were trying to get pregnant when Giffords was shot. She had an appointment with a fertility specialist for Jan. 10, two days after the shooting. Giffords and Kelly had been debating having kids for several years. Although Giffords had just turned 40, the problem was with Kelly, whose surgery to reverse a vasectomy he had during his previous marriage had failed. The couple was going to use a fertility specialist to artificially inseminate one of Gabby’s eggs with Mark’s sperm.
3. Giffords found out the whole story about her shooting from a newspaper story. Mark had avoided to telling her the whole story, especially about who died. But on March 12, three months after the shooting, Gabby saw a headline in The New York Times that said “Doctors Detail Giffords’s Progress,” she insisted Mark read it to her. When she caught him trying to skip the paragraph listing the other victims, she insisted he read it to her.
4. After the shooting, Mark’s two daughters from his previous marriage rallied to their stepmother’s side. His two daughters were 9 and 12 when Giffords and Kelly married in 2007. Despite her best efforts, they had never really warmed up to their new stepmother, who they saw infrequently because they lived in Houston and Giffords in Tucson. But after the accident the girls spent a lot of time in the rehab hospital with their stepmother. Older daughter Claudia vowed in a letter she kept folded in her purse (but was to embarrassed to show Giffords), “I know we have not been extremely close in the past couple of years and I am really sorry. This is going to change immediately.”
5. Mark, an astronaut, wrote a Giffords a “contingency letter” before he flew on the second-to-last space shuttle mission in April 2011. A contingency letter is a NASA euphemism for a farewell letter if something tragic happens on the mission. Mark wrote, “Please try to meet someone else and fall in love again. You deserve that. Please know that I will always love you madly.”
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