Lee Woodruff: Love, Anger, Hope in Caring for Husband

When the couple first met, they were students at Colgate University. She was mesmerized by his intensity and his passion for books.

Most people think Lee fell in love with Bob's green eyes, but in fact, she wrote in her book, she fell in love with his brain.

"He was the smartest guy I've ever met," she said. Bob is "so kind of unaware of how great he is, completely unaware of how cute he was, still to this day."

Bob fell in love with Lee's sense of humor.

"She is without question the funniest woman I'd ever met in my life," he said. "In fact the very first date that we had after I first met her, that first moment, it's been nothing but laughs. Obviously, we've had problems."

But while she was a girl who had barely traveled, Bob was a virtual gypsy and adventurer. He was on top of Mt. Pisco in Peru with friends when he decided he had to marry her.

"There I was, up to 22,106 feet and I thought to myself, 'I really want to get married. I got to decide right now,'" Bob said. "So I came back, I got off the plane. I hadn't shaved for three weeks. I smelled like hell. I called her up. I said meet me down there at the park in New York and I proposed to her."

"How about that? So you have to be oxygen deprived and only with men to realize that you're going to propose to the love of your life. How does that make me feel?" Lee joked.

Lee spent her time in the hospital bargaining with God at five o'clock every morning; even if Bob couldn't speak, she just wanted him to stay alive. Doctors said with a smile that the only time he seemed to stir out of his coma would be when she asked him to.

"I remember the doctor saying, 'Well, you must really exert a real control on him even in his subconscious.' And I said, 'Well, maybe it's just that he loves me so much he hears me through his coma,'" she said. "And they sort of looked at me like, 'No. Somewhere in there you have him terrified to obey you.'"

Lee also spent some time being angry at Bob.

"I cycled through lots of anger. One twin each was pulling on my arm or punishing me for having been gone and I would think, 'Bob why did you do this to us?'" she said. "I know exactly why he [went to Iraq]. He is still inside that 16-year-old boy filled with awe."

A month passed and he sank further and further into his coma. He also began flailing wildly, a sign of deterioration. Doctors said it was probably time for a nursing home. For Lee, it was the breaking point; she was falling apart.

"I just crawled into bed with him [in the hospital] and I just said, 'You've got to do this. You've gotta.' ... God, it's in your hands now."

Lee said she could hear the prayers up and down the halls of the other wives, mothers and children.

"I think three soldiers passed away in the time Bob was in the ICU. There were a couple of big surges of planes coming back full of really wounded people," she said. "And those families mirrored our own. We'd buck each other up and there were a lot of prayers and a lot of people looking for a lot of hope in that hospital."

But on March 6, everything changed.

"I had collapsed into Bob's brother's arms the night before and I said, 'David, I don't know how I'm going to do this. I don't know how I keep going. I can't live away from my kids anymore,'" Lee said. "I woke up that morning and I went for a swim cause that was sort of the only moment I was alone."

After her swim, she entered the room expecting to see Bob in a coma.

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