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Friday, September 07, 2012

The best thing you will read about Gabrielle Giffords at the DNC
Posted by Jill | 10:07 PM
I kind of have a soft spot for Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams. She's a terrific writer, and yes, some of this is because when I wrote her about how I can best convince a colleague who had just had a melanoma removed from her leg that she must use sunscreen and have her skin checked at least twice a year, she sent me a lovely and informative e-mail back.

Williams knows something about facing death; she's a real-life Cathy Jamieson, an unlikely survivor of stage IV melanoma. Her disease is currently in remission thanks to her participation in an immunotherapy clinical trial. So when Gabrielle Giffords, another unlikely survivor who faced death and got another chance, got up at the DNC this week to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, it meant even more to Williams than it did to the rest of us:

To watch Giffords’ Thursday performance at the DNC is to see her limping as she navigates her way to the stage, aided by her friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. To watch her hold her right hand in her left as it rests over her heart. To hear her struggle over the word “indivisible.” To look upon a radically changed person. But that’s not what made her appearance so dramatic.

It’s that the most palpable change in Gabby Giffords is that the woman who was once called the most positive person in Congress now seems, impossible though it may sound, even more positive. No, she didn’t resemble the energetic young woman of years past. But she appeared utterly radiant with delight. She looked so damn happy. Happy to be standing in that room, gratefully accepting the cheers flowing her way. Happy to be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Happy, as well, in the words themselves. Watch her performance. Watch how she takes a rote speech we’ve all droned our way through and makes it a declaration of love. And that is what made it rain on your face Thursday night.

The best that anyone who has ever been through something utterly life-shaking can hope for isn’t to come back from it. It’s to go forward. It’s to take the most unthinkably horrible things that have happened to you and keep digging until you find whatever nuggets of pure, shimmering joy that are hidden within them. It is to take the absolute worst events in your life and use them to bring out not just your best, but the best of those around you. It is to struggle mightily, but to struggle, always, toward the light. It is to embody Elizabeth Warren’s passionate declaration that “People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die — and that matters. That matters.

Yes, it does:

Now go grab a kleenex. I'll wait.

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Blogger Bob said...
I just posted a photo & wrote Gabby "radiated joy" & here find "radiant with delight."

Blogger Bob said...
Look closely & you'll see that when she hits what seems to be a rough part at "indivisble," her friend reaches over & gently touches her.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thank you for this. Although it is hard to type through my tears.