On Wednesday, over two months after being hospitalized for COVID-19, Carl Brown came home.
Put simply, it was a miracle.
When Carl left Navicent Health Baldwin after being on a ventilator for three weeks and was taken to Navicent Health Medical Center in Macon, doctors told his wife, Kay, that they didn't think he was going to make it.
"You know, God's still in the miracle business," Kay said.
It has not been easy for Carl.
Weeks on a ventilator, weeks in ICU and weeks in rehabilitation, with a lot more rehab ahead.
He has had to learn how to eat again. Speak again. And walk again.
"One night in the hospital, I was sick and tired of all the pain," Carl said over the phone Thursday in between tears. "I prayed to God to take my life, that I was ready to die. But I didn't know so many people were praying for me to live.
"When I finally woke up the next day, I knew I was not afraid of dying, but I was afraid of living because I knew what I had to go through to get better."
Carl said he doesn't remember much about the early stages of his battle again the novel coronavirus after he was rolled into the emergency room.
For a time, he was having unpleasant dreams and hallucinations. He was confused about what was reality and what was not.
"Kay helped me separate the two," he said. "Once I got out of the hospital and into rehab, I was a lot more aware of what was really going on."
The Browns said get-well cards in the hundreds and uncountable prayers came from Milledgeville churches and from people as far away as California, Arizona and Massachusetts.
"The community and the churches have been unreal," Carl said. "I never thought so many people cared about you. We got cards from people I don't even know. It's just been an unreal blessing to know that people are reaching out to you.
"The love and support is amazing. God's grace is so good."
Kay said some of the sweetest cards came from children. She said one child drew a picture, folded it and put it and money in a ziplock bag. The Browns don't know who it was from, but they are asking at their church, Northside Baptist, so they can send thanks.
Kay, their son Cody, and their granddaughter Taylor Hudson also tested position for the coronavirus, but they did not become as sick as Carl. They are fine now.
A 1970 Baldwin High graduate, Carl works for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Kay is back at work at Century Bank. One of her co-workers gave the the Browns a wheelchair.
"I asked to pay her back, but she told me to hush and go on," Kay said. "People have been so good to us."
Kay said Carl is unsteady on his feet and is using a walker around the house. "He'll need the wheelchair for anything out of the ordinary," she said.
Carl will start at-home therapy next week.
He said rehab the first day in Macon was "tough, very tough. The first day I walked 10 feet and gave out. The day before I left, I walked 1,020 feet -- over three football fields.
"I'm not 100 percent by any means. I've got a long way to go, but I'm getting better."
Said Kay: "God's not through with Carl. He's still got a plan for Carl."
Carl's plan: Get back to living.
Reach Rick Millians at 803-331-4290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.