In my nine years of being a Sports Writer/Editor, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of wins and losses.

Editors Note: The following is a special column written by Sports Editor Evan Grice

In my nine years of being a Sports Writer/Editor, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of wins and losses. 

But five years ago on this very day, I experienced both my greatest high, and my darkest hour all in the span of 24 hours.

On April 18, 2014 I was the Sports Editor for the Piedmont Surrey Gazette and Okarche Chieftain in Piedmont, Oklahoma just outside Oklahoma City in Canadian County. 

Just 13 days earlier, I had experienced one of the greatest days of my life when I proposed to my then-girlfriend Melissa at Hefner Lake on her 30th birthday (She obviously said yes.) 

Earlier that day, I had accompanied her to a doctor’s appointment pertaining to her ankle and knee, on which she had just had surgery a couple of months prior.

You know those moments when something seems off, but you don’t think of it that way? I had one of those times during the doctor’s visit with my wife. 

At one point she had talked about how she was burning up in the doctor’s office, which was reasonable considering it was unseasonably hot for mid-April. 

Not thinking otherwise, I just told her that it wasn’t anything to worry about, and that she would be able to cool off shortly during her physical therapy appointment, which was in the same area building wise, just a short walk over across the way. 

After kissing her and accompanying her to physical therapy, I said goodbye and told her I’d see her when she got home.

Little did I know she wouldn’t see our home for the next four days.

As I began driving down I-44 towards our apartment, my phone rang and I saw it was my wife. 

Not thinking otherwise, I answered the phone as I normally would when I see it’s her, “Hey, babe.”

But the caller on the other end of the phone wasn’t my wife.

“Evan, it’s Stacia from OCOM physical therapy. You need to get down here now. Melissa has collapsed and isn’t breathing.”

My immediate thoughts turned to finding the nearest exit and getting back to the building as fast as possible.

About 10 minutes later, I was able to make my way to South Walker Avenue and the OCOM physical therapy building, where I walked in to see my wife surrounded by physicians, nurses and doctors, all of whom had been giving her CPR in the moments prior to my arrival.

I dropped to the ground and immediately cradled my wife in my arms and asked her, “What happened?” 

With what seemed to be the last breath in her body she said, “I passed out.” 

Little did I know that could have been the last breath she ever took as we later found out she did flat line and was dead momentarily. 

Moments later, EMT’s arrived on the scene and applied an oxygen mask and were able to start her on somewhat of a normal breathing pattern. 

But our battle was only just beginning. 

After being transported to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital South Campus in Midwest City, 45 minutes later, Melissa went back for a CT scan.

And then the hammer came down.

“We found a massive pair of blood clots in your lungs,” the doctor told my wife. “There’s a good chance you aren’t going to make it through the night.”

Surely life wasn’t going to be this cruel to me after 20 plus years of living, and finding the best person I could have ever asked for to marry; surely life wasn’t going to rob me, was it?

The harsh reality was that my wife was on borrowed time, and her life was hanging by the slimmest of threads. 

“Go call my dad, along with my aunt and uncle and tell them what is going on,” she told me after hearing this diagnosis. 

It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, to call a father and tell him his daughter could possibly not live through the night, and to tell an aunt and uncle the same thing. 

As much as it pained me, I did it.

Just over an hour later, some friends of ours showed up which allowed me the chance to run home and get some essentials.

As I was driving home, I played the only song I could think of at the time to give me strength, “Not gonna die,” by Skillet.

Throughout the entire four plus minutes of loud guitars and drums, my lip quivered, my eyes welled up, and tears ran down my face like a waterfall. My life was crashing, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. 

After eating dinner and grabbing the items we needed, I drove back to the hospital, where Melissa had been moved to ICU.

Upon entering the room, my wife, who was hooked up to an IV and several other devices, looked at me and gave me the nickname that I’ve proudly answered to to this day.

“The writer of champions,” she said with a smile as she adjusted in her hospital bed to give me a hug.

I’ve often believed that signs come in all shapes and sizes when you need them most.

A guiding light for me came in of all places, my wife’s hospital room right in front of my eyes.

On the board there were several pictures with names of nurses as well as other things, and suddenly I saw a picture of a swan, which ironically was my wife’s maiden name.

Without hesitation, I walked up to the board, grabbed a marker and wrote “Strong” on the blank below the swan, then looked at my wife and said, “That’s the only thing this Swan is right now - strong.” 

Everyday I wear a bracelet which has this same slogan on my right wrist as a reminder to never forget, and to never give up.

My parents, as well as her aunt and uncle arrived later that evening, both emotional meetings to say the least. 

The next morning I walked in to see not just a woman that I loved, but a warrior who was bruised across her stomach from injections, as well as a giant bruise across her arm from her blood pressure cuff.

My wife hadn’t just knocked on death’s door, she busted it down, despite overwhelming odds.

During this four-day ordeal, she also continued to work on her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, which she received in December of that year from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. 

Four days later also happened to be my 26th birthday - April 22. 

As I wheeled my wife out to the car, she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry I ruined your birthday.”

I responded with, “You didn’t ruin my birthday. You gave me the best present I could have ever asked for.”

Life hasn’t been easy in the five years since, as her health has gotten worse in many ways.

But I don’t worry about the odds we face, I instead hold out hope for a brighter day. 

Lord knows we’ve already experienced enough darkness for one lifetime. 

My wife once said to me, “I’m sorry I’ve failed you.”

The only way anyone, including my wife, could ever fail me is to give up. She will never give up, so there’s no failure in our future.