TODAY   |  January 09, 2014

Gabby Giffords: Skydive says, ‘I’m alive’

Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly shares the triumphs and milestones in her recovery – as well as the surprise skill she never lost – in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you, ladies. let's go back to savannah in arizona.

>> hi, guys. by the way, i would eat two burritos out of the machine buttive grbut i grew up in arizona. we sat down with gabby giffords to talk about life three years after the terrible shooting.

>> after all you have been through, what did it feel like to fly?

>> oh, wonderful sky, gorgeous mountains, blue skies . i like a lot. i like a lot.

>> it's a lot of fun.

>> a lot of fun.

>> was it peaceful?

>> peaceful. so peaceful.

>> it's a big way of saying i'm alive.

>> i'm alive. yes, i'm alive.

>> it's hard to fathom three years ago this is where gabby giffords , a young congresswoman meeting with constituents on a state morning was gunned down at close range. early reports suggested she had died. few thought she would ever recover as well as she has.

>> is this a hard day , january 8th ?

>> happy and sad.

>> we'll remember the people that were lost that day. gabby had six of her constituents and, you know, staff members murdered, including 9-year-old christina taylor green. it's a sad day but at the same time, you know, you got to move.

>> move on.

>> move on.

>> and move ahead.

>> since the shooting giffords has seen remarkable recovery. fuelled mainly by her relentless determination to heal. there have been tiny try iumphs and major milestones. she revealed she is now able to make small movements on her right side, once completely paralyzed.

>> can you show me a little bit?

>> when gabby is laying down, she can take it from here to here.

>> there was a time when you didn't --

>> no, no, no.

>> you never give up.

>> yes.

>> but for a woman once known for her passion and eloquent tongue, her toughest challenge is finding her words again. is it frustrating times --

>> oh, awful.

>> to find those words.

>> oh, awful.

>> you know the times during the day you might have a hard time remembering the word? it happens to me --

>> all of us.

>> yeah, it happens to everybody. but you just can't find that right word. that's what gabby has to live with but magnified.

>> but this is a woman with ambitious goals.

>> for yourself and your recovery, what are you hoping to accomplish?

>> spanish.

>> really?

>> yes, spanish. fluent.

>> gabby was fluent in spanish.

>> french horn .

>> and get back to playing her french horn .

>> i heard that you can still sing a little bit.

>> yes. the sun will come out tomorrow

>> three years later gabby giffords wants her voice heard in every way.

>> be bold, be courageous.

>> this year she went to congress, traveled the country to push for enhanced background checks, certainly she believes might stop other senseless shootings.

>> the nation is counting on you.

>> are you frustrated at congress, the place you used to --

>> oh, awful. so sad. awful, awful.

>> it's hard for them to get stuff done.

>> yes.

>> very polarized.

>> the worst congress. the worst.

>> back at home recovery is a full-time job, thinking about the present and perhaps a political future.

>> do you ever think about returning to political office ? would you want to?

>> a little bit later. a little bit later. maybe. maybe.

>> what do you want people to know about gabby giffords and how you're doing now?

>> hard to find the words.

>> yes, yes, hard words. so slowly. a little bit slowly, a little bit slowly.

>> how is your outlook on life?

>> pretty good, pretty good.

>> optimistic?

>> optimistic. optimistic.

>> back for a moment to the singing. apparently the part of your brain that enables you to sing is in a different place than the part that enables you to talk and it's incredibly in tact. she burst into song without any provocation. it was incredible to see. even though you can see from that interview that gabby struggles to find your words, she understands everything. you don't have to talk slow, you certainly don't have to talk down. she has an incredible grip of everything that is going on around her and she maintains that spirit, that personality, that bubbliness and that sense of humor. i think that has a lot to do with why she has recovered so well and made tremendous progress.

>> thanks again for the story and the interview. we'll see you soon.