The staff of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' office came to work at 8 this morning. Just like they do everyday, crammed into a small office.
And after a moment of silence they started work. But trying to get back to normal, is just not possible.
"We're not closing. The government doesn't close. Democracy doesn't close. And this office is open," said C.J. Karamargin, Giffords' communications director.
"Are you okay?"
There was a lot of that today as the office tried to get back to normal. To begin work on constituency services, get the phone messages from the weekend cleared, and get down to doing the things a duly elected official needs to have done.
Normal however is far away from here.
"It is an important message for the community to know that this office is not going to be deterred by acts of violence.. And even acts of violence as unspeakable as this," Karamargin said.
What makes Giffords' office different, while not unique in congressional circles, is the closeness of the employees. Turnover is rare. Smiles and hugs are the norm . . . and infectious..
"You, as a member of the local press corps know, that when (Giffords) sees you at an event, the first thing she's going to do is come over and hug you. I've been hugging every reporter that comes our way because this what Gabby would do. As she says, she's a hugger."
A Christmas picture from a couple of years ago hangs in a room set aside for anyone who wants to stop by to talk, to compose a note of their feelings, and let them know the entire community feels their grief.
"Things like this were very important. As you can see, this is a family picture; it's like a picture from an album."
It was not easy for them to come back today. Some of them in the office were at the shooting Saturday, and now return filled with emotion. Trying to get a handle on the events that so upset their lives.
"What comes first is helping the people in our part of the state," said staffer Mark Kimble. "If Gabby were able to tell us what to do, she would tell us to go back to work. And we're trying to do that the best we can."
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