A heart virus could have killed Randy Travis. A stroke nearly did. But it was a staph infection that led doctors to tell his wife Mary to prepare for the his death.

She couldn't accept that.

Mary and Randy Travis were not married in July 2013 when a series of horrible medical events happened back to back, forcing the then-54-year-old to be hospitalized for nearly six months and undergo many surgeries and procedures. As described in his new book, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music Faith and Braving the Storms of Life, and previously to the Tennessean, Travis was in a coma when doctors told the couple he was going to die. She squeezed his hand and asked if he wanted to keep fighting.

Travis mustered the power to squeeze back and a single tear fell down his cheek.

"I knew then he wasn't ready to quit fighting," she told the newspaper. 'I went back and told the doctors, 'It's not our choice to decide that. … And I suggest that everybody get on board and do everything they can do to save him.'"

A new doctor and new treatment turned his story around, to the point that within two weeks, they were talking about returning home. The last five-and-a-half years has been constant rehabilitation of different sorts, and Travis has made improvements to the point that he can now say certain words, sing a few songs (his version of "Amazing Grace" at his 2016 Hall of Fame induction was tear-jerking) and walk. That's a far cry from how he fared upon his release in November 2013, when his vision was blurry, he couldn't recall what a telephone was for and his speech was very limited.

Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music Faith and Braving the Storms of Life will be released on May 14. Randy and Mary got married in April 2015.

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