I felt a presence in the room. I screamed when I turned to see my husband standing there with a grim grin. Grim because of pain; grin because he had made it all the way up 14 stairs and crossed the hallway to stand in his study. This was May 1, 2018.

On Feb. 15 that year, he had been hit by a car while we were walking in a crosswalk in Tucson, Arizona. The car and driver were never found. We aren’t entirely sure what happened, but Cal lay 70 feet from where I was. He had a broken left leg, a broken right arm with skin peeled off exposing bone, several broken ribs, broken vertebrae and wounds to his lungs, back and face.

As a result of the accident, he had had eight surgeries and had been given eight units of blood. He spent time in four hospitals and endured a daylong medical jet trip from Tucson to Maine. He was seen by too many doctors, nurses and occupational and physical therapists to count. But after two months he was home in our very own mini-hospital. I acted as head nurse, with the occasional visit from a physical therapist. He slept in a hospital bed and spent days in a wheelchair or, when he had the strength to shift, a sofa in front of the TV.

That morning I had left him downstairs in the hands of a physical therapist who concluded her visit by praising his progress and saying that in a month he would definitely be able to attempt the stairs. Never one to give up when challenged, Cal told me he stared at the stairs for a good 20 minutes before he started to climb them, being careful to put most of his weight on his good leg even as he held on to the handrail with his bad arm.

A miracle, yes, but not a surprise, considering this was a man who persevered through many physical and psychological challenges in his life. Yes, he had quit teaching when he received a harsh cancer diagnosis a few years before, and he had quit playing basketball when it was clear that his 6-foot-5-inch brother was always going to get the rebound. But he had cultivated determination as a fisherman, a soldier, a scholar, a teacher and, not least, as my personal fixer of all things mechanical and especially things produced by Apple.

He remembers nothing of his time in the trauma and rehab hospitals in Tucson. I remember every bit of my fear and anxiety. When he had regained consciousness but was still intubated, he made a walking motion with his left hand and seemed to ask, Will I be able to walk? With no evidence to support my assertion at that point, I assured him he would. And he did and does. With a slight limp, he walks every day. But he now takes my hand when we cross a street.

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