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.
An Unexpected Phone Call
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.
His Greatest Teachers
"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.
Counting His Blessings
The biggest question asked about Woodruff's recovery is whether he suffers from depression.
He admits that he's not immune to it.
"There are times, maybe once a month when I do have some real depression," he said.
But he knows how lucky he is, and it's his blessings that he spends most of his time thinking about.
"I look at how I am lucky. I really am in so many ways that everything that has come back," Woodruff said.
Happy to Have Dad Back
For his children, the only thing that matters is that their dad is back.
"We're happy to have him back," Mack said in an interview with "GMA."
"We love him," his daughter Cathryn said.
But they say that the recovery process is not always easy.
"Sometimes it's frustrating but you never really get angry at him because you know he didn't really do it on purpose. It wasn't his fault," Cathryn said.
Back to Work
One thing that has changed with Woodruff's recovery is that he's going back to work again, and the twins have noticed.
Woodruff is committed to returning to journalism in any form.
"Whatever I can do," he said. "Anchoring was a wonderful job. I held it for a full 27 days, and I think I can probably do it again. It's not something I necessarily have to do immediately. What I love is being out there where the stories are."
It's harder for the kids to see their dad go to work.
"It's sorta sad when he leaves, when he goes to work, because he stays there for like almost a whole day and he comes back that night," Claire said.
But for these kids, who might have lost their dad forever, knowing that their dad is back -- whether he's at work or not -- is what really matters.
Bob and Lee Woodruff have established a fund to assist members of the military who are suffering from brain injuries. To learn more, click here: Bob Woodruff Family Fund.