He wrote a small prayer in a book five months ago: "Please God, don't let anything happen to my children. Let me absorb all the pain for them."
It was a plea that any father might make, but for ABC News' Bob Woodruff, recovering from a traumatic brain injury received while covering the war in Iraq, it was the desperate plea from a father who didn't know whether he could care for his children.
Woodruff's four children -- Mack, 15; Cathryn, 13; and 6-year-old twins Claire and Nora -- have been their father's source of strength and joy, and some of his best teachers in the long months since he was injured by an attack from a roadside IED, improvised explosive device, in Iraq.
Woodruff's wife, Lee, took the children in one by one, to see their father in a coma, filled with tubes. The kids wrote that when the twins walked into the room, they said, "Daddy's not so handsome anymore."
"Well, he had a white tape kind of that covered over it, and he had a little bump in his head like that," Claire and Nora said, remembering the moment.
"He was lying in bed, and he had rocks in his face," Nora said.
The children saw Woodruff every weekend, after a full week at school wondering whether he was getting better.
"It was hard to see him like that," said Cathryn, his oldest daughter.
Thirty-six days later, March 6, Woodruff's son, Mack, got a call that he will never forget.
"My baby sitter walked into my room while I was sleeping and she woke me up and said my dad was on the other phone and wanted to talk to me," Mack said.
He couldn't believe it. His Dad was awake. He asked his baby sitter whether she was serious.
"I picked up the phone and like a lot of it was gibberish, but it was him on the other line and that's all that really mattered to me, was that he was alive and talking," Mack said.
Sooner than the kids knew it, Woodruff was back at home.
"Hello little Clairey." It was one of Woodruff's first greetings as he walked into his home, a helmet affixed to his head and his faculties still struggling to come back.
The twins, Claire and Nora, had a chance to spend time with their dad like they'd never had before.
"If there's anything lucky in this past year, aside from the fact that I have recovered to the extent that I have. I have so much more time to spend with my kids, and that that has been a gift," Woodruff told "Good Morning America."
The kids became Woodruff's teachers, helping him to remember words, names and places.
They had to reteach him how to say words like belt buckle. Over and over, they would sit with their dad while he struggled to pronounce words properly.
In one touching moment caught on camera, after more than half a dozen tries, Woodruff's daughters finally taught him how to say belt buckle.
"Belt buckle. Belt buckle. You taught me! Belt buckle. You did it!" Woodruff shouted in triumph.
"I was so excited they taught me new words," he said. "They felt like teachers."
The twins remember that their dad would use "funny" words sometimes, switching hammock and helmet.
Reading and writing were harder for Woodruff to get back.
"I would say about eight months ago I was one-one-hundredth of speed of my ability to read and write," he said.
He is down to half as fast as he used to be. His hope is that it will all come back in time.