The mere thought sends shivers down Joey Leilua's spine.
That is, the mere thought of being millimetres away from having his spine severed, and the fear he would never hold his kids again.
For that reason he will not take anything for granted. The chance to walk, the chance to hold Leonidas and LaDanian. The chance to play in another NRL grand final.
Because he had taken it all for granted before. But now he will pull on his Canberra Raiders jersey and run onto Sydney Olympic Park with two bolts connected to his C4 vertebra and an artificial bone.
Now he is determined to make the most of his chance when the Raiders clash with the Sydney Roosters - Leilua's former club - on Sunday night.
It is perhaps the last place he thought he would be after neck surgery left him in the intensive care unit in May, days after pleading with Raiders staff to pull him out of the side with what he thought was just neck soreness.
Football had suddenly taken a back seat, shelved alongside the civil engineering degree he was once enrolled in for eight weeks before rugby league took precedence.
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"The first thing I thought was 'I just want to hold my kids', because I couldn't hold them," Leilua said.
"That was the disappointing thing. That's what killed me. That was the first thing, I never even thought about footy until two weeks later after the surgery.
"I couldn't stay at home man, it was doing my head in. I just wanted to get back out there and play footy. I knew from then on it would be easy.
"I knew I was going to be fine for this year, but it probably took me nine weeks to be really, really confident.
"I was bumping into the boys and hitting them with my shoulder and my back, just to make sure my shoulders were alright and my neck was strong.
"I didn't feel a thing so that's when I knew I was ready to get back into it."
But the chance to feature in the grand final was almost pried away from Leilua by a fresh injury concern after he suffered a burst blood vessel in his calf last week.
His absence would leave the Raiders with no NRL grand final experience heading into the decider - something the game has not seen since Newcastle stunned Manly in 1997.
But Leilua has declared himself fit as he looks to claim his first premiership ring having been on the wrong side of the result as a Rooster in 2010.
"Nine years ago as a rookie in your first season, you think 'wow. It's a grand final, I am so excited'. I was," Leilua said.
"Then you think 'I'm going to make it every year', but it doesn't work like that. You realise it's going to take a whole lot of hard work and dedication to get there.
"I realised that when I was at Newcastle, and in 2016 here. We made it to the finals, I thought we could win it, and we didn't."
But "we're here now", and the man he is bumping into won't be his teammate - it will be Dally M centre of the year Latrell Mitchell.
The Roosters flyer who declared Leilua "is intimidating to other people", but not to Mitchell.
Leilua knows the man standing before him in the biggest game of the year boasts a similar x-factor - but he won't get carried away in search of an early statement.
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"It's going to be a tough task, he is a very aggressive player, like myself," Leilua said.
"He's a freak, I'll give him that. I've got to be on my game and make sure I take him down."
Leilua is confident he is up to the task - and unlike his civil engineering degree, he is seeing this one all the way through.
"I did eight weeks of it while I was at the Roosters. I did eight weeks of it but I had to withdraw from it because of footy commitments," Leilua said.
"I had to do three days a week for five weeks of practical work. After eight weeks of studying they said that. They could have said it earlier.
The first thing I thought was 'I just want to hold my kids', because I couldn't hold them. That's what killed me. That was the first thing, I never even thought about footy.Joey Leilua
"It was a bit disappointing I missed out on it, but hopefully I can do that in future years.
"Win this and I'll go home happy."
It may yet be Leilua's final game for the Raiders with the strike centre free to explore his options heading into the 2020 season.
The Raiders will struggle to match Leilua's current salary when his contract expires at the end of next season, which has seen him linked to Canterbury.
It makes the grand final a potential last roll of the dice for Canberra's right-edge combination with Jordan Rapana linked to a move to Japanese rugby.
Leilua admits he doesn't want to think about the end of the famed "Leipana" duo - so it makes this opportunity against the Roosters too big to overlook.
"There is going to be a lot of changes with players leaving," Leilua said.
"I haven't spoken to them, I'll be speaking to them after this season. We'll discuss what the plan is for the Raiders and what they want to do. We'll figure out there, with my future wife, what's going to happen and what we're going to do."
NRL GRAND FINAL
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters at Sydney Olympic Park, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Iosia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 14. Bailey Simonsson 15. Emre Guler 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Dunamis Lui. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. Ryan Sutton 20. Siliva Havili 21. Sebastian Kris.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley. Interchange: 14. Angus Crichton 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Nat Butcher 17. Siosiua Taukeiaho. Reserves: 18. Lindsay Collins 19. Drew Hutchison 20. Jake Friend 21. Ryan Hall.