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Better by the Day

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It didn’t take long for Bob Woodruff to get back into the swing of things at his Westchester County, N.Y., home. The day after the ABC News coanchor first returned home from the hospital April 1—and still recovering from the bomb blast that nearly killed him in Iraq last winter—Woodruff, 44, watched as his then 5-year-old twin daughters fought over a toy. “He said, ‘You need to let Claire have it for a little while, Nora, then you can play with it,'” recalls Woodruff’s older brother Dave. “He told me, ‘I can’t tell you how much better I feel just being home.'”

Ten weeks ago, Woodruff’s family didn’t know if they would ever see this day. The Jan. 29 blast fractured Woodruff’s skull and injured his shoulder, and he remained under heavy sedation for weeks as the swelling in his brain slowly subsided. Eventually, Woodruff began therapy to sharpen his memory and rebuild his stamina (he doesn’t have the energy to help his kids with their homework, says his brother) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He has already regained “the full ability to communicate,” says Dave Woodruff, including in Mandarin Chinese and French. Still unclear: when—and whether—Woodruff will return to his coanchor chair. “If it’s up to Bob, it’ll be as soon as possible,” says Dave. Woodruff watches the news every evening and recently sent a note to colleagues saying he was glad to be “laughing with family, reading bedtime stories and reminding my kids to do their homework.”

It’s fair to say the feeling is mutual. On April 9, Woodruff, his wife, Lee, and their two other children, Mack, 14, and Cathryn, 12, celebrated Claire and Nora’s sixth birthday. Afterward Lee told Dave, “It was great to have Bob home for their birthdays, but more importantly, it was great to have him alive for their birthdays.”