"She was in very, very good spirits," her rep tells PEOPLE of the images of Rep. Giffords

By Champ Clark and Alison Schwartz
June 12, 2011 09:05 AM
Credit: P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign

Since the January shooting that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously wounded, the Arizona congresswoman has been recovering in private.

But on Sunday, Giffords posted two photographs of herself on her official Facebook page.

The images, which were taken by photographer P.K. Weis, on May 17 – the day after the congresswoman attended husband Mark Kelly’s NASA shuttle launch – outside a Houston, Texas, medical center. They show a smiling Giffords with short, darker hair wearing wire-rimmed glasses.

“These photos reveal an upbeat image of Gabrielle Giffords,” spokesman C.J. Karamargin tells PEOPLE. “When you see the pictures you see that she has progressed in leaps and bounds. When they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, if ever that was true, it is true here.”

In one of the images she’s with her mother, Gloria Giffords. “Gloria has been by her side throughout,” Karamargin said. “You can see the mother-daughter bond [in the photo]. It is an apt reflection of their relationship.”

As for that smile, Karamargin said Giffords was beaming after watching the launch of space shuttle Endeavor captained by her husband.

“She was in very, very good spirits. The reason was that she got to watch Mark ride off into space. She was thrilled by that. People who know her say they saw a boost in her spirits and her strength. And her doctors predicted this might happen,” Karamargin said. “Going to the launch was a tremendous milestone for her.”

Giffords will soon have even more to smile about when she reaches another milestone. Doctors, Karamargin said, expect to release her from the hospital to an outpatient program.

“They are preparing her to go home,” he said. “This is wonderful for her.”