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Goodbye, Gabby: Thanks to Houston medicine, Giffords is now well enough to return to Tucson

After nearly 18 months living and healing in Houston, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords moved back home to Tucson on Sunday.

"She's gone home before to visit, but this is different," husband Mark Kelly tells the Arizona Star. "She'll be home for good. She's very, very happy."

Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Loughner on Jan. 8, 2011 during a meet-and-greet with her constituents in Tucson. She was flown to Houston on Jan. 25 to receive treatment first at the neurological intensive care unit at Memorial Hermann Hospital, and after a recovery that her doctors termed "lightning speed" and "remarkable," was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann for rehabilitation therapy.

 During her 18 months in Houston, locals embraced the congresswoman as one of their own. 

By June 2011 she was well enough to receive outpatient care, living at her husband's home in League City.

"Since the day she basically realized that she was not in Arizona anymore after her injury . . . very early on, the first stuff she talked about was getting home," Kelly told the Arizona Star. "But it was very important for her to be in Houston, where she was able to get very specific therapy for this type of injury. She did that for a year and a half and the second we realized that was going to start winding down, it was time for us to start looking forward to how we could get to Tucson."

During her 18 months in Houston, locals embraced the congresswoman as one of their own, from leaving flowers at the Texas Medical Center to following her every outing, from dinner at Grotto and seats at the symphony to attending the Mardi Gras Gala in Galveston to a Space Center astronaut salute, her first post-shooting public appearance.

Kelly, who retired from NASA in 2011, will be keeping his Houston-area home "for now" but is moving full-time to Tucson to be with his wife. His youngest daughter will be attending high school in Arizona, while his eldest daughter will complete her senior year of high school in Houston, living with his ex-wife.

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