REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And she didn’t at first.
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: And we just thought, okay -- and you could watch -- when you’re watching her eyes, she’s really trying to focus. Like you could see she hadn’t opened her eyes in days. And then instead of giving the thumbs up, she literally raises her whole arm like this -- like this. It was unbelievable. And then she reaches out and starts grabbing Mark and is touching him and starts to nearly choke him -- she was clearly trying to hug him.
And so like -- she was -- it was such a moment. And we were just in tears of joy watching this and beyond ourselves, honestly. And then Mark said, you know, touch my ring, touch my ring. And she touches his ring and then she grabs his whole watch and wrist. And then the doctor was just so excited. He said, you don’t understand, this is amazing, what’s she’s doing right now, and beyond our greatest hopes.
And so then they decided we had to go because it was a lot -- (laughter) -- of excitement for her and it was -- we just told her how proud we were and how much we loved her and said we’d visit soon.
But, Gabby, you should describe a little about how you felt --
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know what, she keeps -- she’s been calling me Gabby the whole day. (Laughter.)
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: Debbie has to tell you --
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That’s the sixth time she’s called me Gabby. (Laughter.)
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: Debbie has to tell you about what she said after because the way she -- the way Debbie phrased it was I thought very amazing.
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was just -- really, it felt like a miracle. It felt like we were watching a miracle. And Kirsten is totally right -- we just both wanted so badly to be there for her as her friends. We wanted to do -- we wanted to be there for Mark and for her parents. And just the strength that you could see just flowing out of her to get -- it was like she was trying to will her eyes open. It was just -- I mean, it felt --
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: Debbie, you should say about -- when you had your children -- that it was like the only experience that’s similar is when you have a child.
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Exactly. The only way I could describe the feeling that we had, that I had, was other than the birth of my kids, this was the most incredible feeling, to see literally your -- one of your closest friends just struggle to come back to you, to come back to her family, to come back to her friends. I mean, we know how strong Gabby is and you could see all the strength pouring out of her to touch her husband --
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: And to tell us she’s there. Like she was -- it was -- you imagine this when you watch a movie, but it’s like she wanted to tell us, I’m here, I can hear you, I’m with you, and I appreciate everything you’re doing.
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We told her -- when Kirsten was talking to her, she said -- because she and her husband had just gone and had pizza with Gabby and Mark, so she said, you know, come on -- come on, Gabby, you got to get going here, we’re going to go out for pizza. The last couple of summers, Gabby and Mark and Mark’s kids have vacationed with my family and I in New Hampshire. And I said, Gabby, we fully expect you to be up and ready to go to come back up to New Hampshire this summer, and that’s when she started to open her eye. And the Speaker was talking to her this whole time. We just kept alternately talking to her.
And literally the doctor said, no, you don’t understand, this is really, really significant progress. He starts pounding out a message on his BlackBerry. Her mother and father are just crying. When we -- when they finally pretty much kicked us out because, you know, obviously --
SENATOR GILLIBRAND: It was a lot of excitement.
REPRESENTATIVE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: A lot of excitement, she had to rest. We told her how much we loved her and we’d be back to see her and whatever she needed us to do, we’d be here for her. And we went out, Dr. Lemole, who is the one that’s been on TV and has been so good about explaining everything, he literally said to us, you know, I’ve discounted -- on TV, I’ve discounted emotion being -- and friendship and family -- really, I’ve sort of discounted that as meaningless out loud. He said, I just witnessed the impact of friendship and what you guys -- he said, you did this here today.
If you're overcome with emotion and want to do something -- anything -- to celebrate this moment, looks like MoveOn.org is collecting online cards for Gabby Giffords here.