Routine motions make Wayne Eggins Jr. feel human again: standing up in the shower, stirring food in a skillet, getting dressed by himself.
These baby steps are great strides in Eggins' recovery from a gunshot wound and a reminder for him of how fast life can turn upside-down.
"It's the little things. That's (what) I took for granted," he said.
It's been five months since Eggins returned home and saw someone breaking into his neighbor's apartment in west Augusta. Eggins confronted the man, then was pistol-whipped and shot in the head by an accomplice.
Eggins barely survived and is in the process of a long recovery that includes several surgeries to fix his skull.
The burden of his care mostly falls on his fiancée, Monique Sullivan-Johnson, who is due to deliver their first child Sept. 11.
Some days are harder than others, but the young couple has survived through a combination of faith, optimism and determination. Love plays a large role, too. Not long after they moved out of the apartment and into a small house in Martinez, the couple agreed to get married.
There was no formal proposal; as a still-fragile Eggins points out, "If I tried to get down on one knee, I wouldn't get back up."
A mutual understanding and a wedding ring set donated by Windsor Jewelers sealed the deal.
"It will be special," Sullivan-Johnson said of the wedding, but right now there's a baby on the way and Eggins' recovery to focus on.
There's already a room ready for Wayne Eggins III, with a crib pushed against one wall and a stroller parked in the corner. A border featuring zoo animals rings the top of the room; tiny shoes and onesies are neatly stacked on the changing table.
Sullivan-Johnson's pregnancy is going well; her only complaints are the usual swollen feet and sleepless nights. She's nervous about parenthood but more excited about holding the baby in her arms.
"Time is going faster and faster," she said. "There's only 11 weeks left."
Eggins still requires constant care, but he's making it easier every day as he gains independence. The metal bar that was stabilizing his jaw has been removed, along with the bullet fragment that was embedded in his cheek.
He "experimented" with this newfound freedom for a weekend by eating cheesecake. His speech is clearer now; his laugh full and bright.
The couple mostly stay at home, both with their feet up, trying to avoid too much strenuous activity. Sullivan-Johnson was recently asked whether they ever got bored or irritated each other, but so far they've done well together.
"We keep each other company," she said. "Once the baby comes we'll have our hands full."