"Push...Puuush!" I called out to my friend, but it appeared that there was no use in trying anymore. My carwas stuck in the mud, and I was on a double date. I was just 16 years old, and I wanted to make a good impressionon my pretty and intelligent date. However, hearing the motor rev with the car still stuck in the mud did notearn brownie points for my friend or me in the eyes of our dates.

We continued to push and push, but there was no getting my car "unstuck" from the mud. Sharon, my date, wasrevving the car's engine while Jeff and I were pushing and pushing. Finally, I said, "Enough!" Embarrassed,I approached Sharon as she sat behind the wheel of my mother's red station wagon. Before I could speak Inoticed the gear on the car: It was set on neutral!"

I set the gear to "drive," instructed Sharon to wait until I gave her the signal to press down on theaccelerator, and then went back to help Jeff push the car out of the mud.

That was our first date. Even though I got mud on my slacks, I hadlove in my heart. I was "stung" by the Love Bug.

Sharon and I dated seriously throughout high school. I went away to college as Sharon was finishing hersenior year in high school. Our love, which was blooming, was only matched in size by our long-distancetelephone bills.

The next year, Sharon joined me at the University of Texas. We were so happy. We thought we were on topof the world. We thought our lives were set. That was true until that eventful evening when in a splitsecond our lives changed forever.

On February 18, 1981, we were studying at the library of the University. It was late, and Sharon told me thatshe had to return to her dormitory to go to sleep. We slid into my car and headed toward her dorm, but,unfortunately, my gas gauge was registering "empty." I pulled into a nearby convenience store, borrowed $2from Sharon, and walked into the store to pay for the gas.

Things do not always work out as one plans them. Unfortunately, the store was in the midst of a robbery, andone of the thieves forced me into the cooler. He followed me, pushed me to the floor, and calmly shot me inthe back of the head-execution-style!

The story does not end there. Yes, the criminal thought I was dead, thus eliminating any witness to thecrime. However, when the thieves left the store, I still had a faint pulse.

Very few people believed I would remain alive much longer. That is why the police transferred my case to theHomicide division. That is also why the neurosurgeon, when he was awakened at his home to see me at thehospital, came quickly but returned home as he believed an operation would be futile.

However, when the doctor returned to the hospital in the morning, he was shocked to see that I was stillalive. He told my parents that an operation was necessary, but he added that he would be surprised if Isurvived the surgery.

I fooled all of the medical experts and survived the surgery. However, the surgeon warned my parents thateven though I was still breathing, I would probably never be able to communicate with anyone or understandanyone who was attempting to communicate with me. Basically, the surgeon stated, I would be "a vegetable."

Hearing those words, my father told Sharon, "Get on with your life."

Sharon quickly replied, "Mike is my life."

Even though we were not yet married, Sharon believed in the vows, "in sickness and in health." She droppedout of college for one semester to be with me at the Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston where I was eventuallytransferred. Sharon was spending her time with her "drooling boyfriend in the hospital" while other collegefreshmen were spending their time at parties.

Eventually, Sharon returned to Austin to continue her college education. Once again we had enormous phonebills.

My goal was to also return to Austin, to the University of Texas, to be with Sharon. Eighteen months after noone thought I would survive, I accomplished that goal. One of the primary reasons was ... Sharon, my love,who refused to give up or give in.

Four years after returning to college I graduated. For me, that meant I could finally propose to Sharon, mylight at the end of the dark tunnel. She was the one who would always encourage me to look forward and not tofocus on the past.

On a beautiful day in May, Sharon and I exchanged vows and were married. We were meant to be together. Wehad dated for nine long and eventful years, but I realized at the wedding that it was worth everything.Sharon was truly my soulmate.

We have been married for many years and we have a beautiful daughter, Shawn. We have experienced so much-some bad, but more, much more, good.

This is not just a "love letter" to my wife but the story of a girl's overcoming everyone's "rational"thoughts to stay behind with her critically injured boyfriend. To me it shows what kind of woman Sharonis--a beauty inside and out. Further, it shows the lesson of not giving up on one's dreams. I give Sharon allthe credit for my recovery-not me. I don't know where I would be without her-definitely not where I amtoday.