NOTE: This story was originally published on February 2, 2021. Wednesday was Drew Robinson named to the triple-A list of the San Francisco Giants. It will likely make its debut in his hometown of Las Vegas this weekend in 2021.
ON APRIL 16, 2020, Drew Robinson woke up, spread peanut butter on a cinnamon and raisin bagel, pulsed a green smoothie, sat at his kitchen table and wrote a note explaining to his family and friends why he had decided to end his life. He had spent the past month alone in his home, trapped in the pandemic and quarantined on his own mind. He hated his life. He hated that no one knew how much he hated his life.
“I hope that at some point you realize that no one could have seen this to prevent it, because I am trying very hard to hide it,” he wrote, “and that it is nobody else’s fault.”
He apologized to Daiana, Darryl, Renee, Britney and Chad, the five people he loved most. Those who knew him best and still couldn’t see the sadness that was choking him. Even they believed the avatar Drew had created: a major league baseball player, handsome, charming, funny, with a slight laugh and a big smile. Drew lived his dream and wanted to die.
Guilt mixed with a sense of peace as he signed the letter, “I’m sorry. Drew Robinson.” Now he could finish everything and clean up the remains of the past 27 years. He started cleaning the house. He wanted the place to be spotless, as clean as it was when he first moved in. His family would have enough problems after that. He wasn’t going to burden her with anyone else.
His last hours melted away. Around 5 p.m. Drew felt an adrenaline rush. It was time.
He took his pistol from the bedside table. He put the note in the most visible place, the kitchen counter. He jumped into his truck and planned to drive to a nearby park where he had settled. But that felt wrong. He tried another place. He decided he didn’t want to die in his truck. He drove home.
Drew was sitting on his living room couch. He poured himself a glass of whiskey and then another. He stopped. He didn’t have a drinking problem and didn’t want anyone to suspect anything else. His thoughts crashed into each other – about what it would look like and who it would affect and who would find it. He was alone, alone until the end. At around 8 p.m. he leaned to one side in one continuous motion, reached for the coffee table, raised the gun, pressed it against his right temple, and pulled the trigger.
That should be the end of Drew Robinson’s story.
In the next 20 hours he would realize that it was the beginning of someone else.
“I’m here for One reason, “says Drew Robinson. It’s six days before Christmas 2020. He’s grateful. He wants to tell the world what happened – so that he can heal and maybe help others heal too.
The reason, says Drew, is that “I should tell a story” and not just the story of what happened. The real story – the important story – is what happened after: every minute he lives in, moments good and bad. It is not a rehabilitated version where a man is saved and fortunately is the result. It’s raw and beautiful and ugly and melancholy and triumphant and everything in between.
He knows there are a million questions. For example, how did he live almost a full day with a huge hole on the right side of his head and another wound where the bullet came out on the left side without medical help? Few people survive self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. Even rarer are those that emerge with clarity and purpose. Drew’s words are deliberate and confident. He realizes how lucky he was. How he’s still vulnerable. How he needs therapy and medication. How it’s okay not to be okay
He knows that sometimes life is like a vice, relentless, always tight. He knows how crippling that can be. He knows that there is a burgeoning mental health crisis in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 11% of American adults surveyed in June viewed suicide and that thoughts of suicide in 18- to 24-year-olds were in 26%. He knows it’s difficult to talk about. He knows that it is even more difficult to suffer from it. He knows because he lived it.
“This was a huge sign. A huge, painful sign to help people get through something they don’t think could be won.”
“I should go through this,” says Drew. “I’m supposed to help people get through battles that don’t seem to be winnable. It should happen completely. There is no other answer. It doesn’t make any sense. It should happen. …
“I’m free now,” he says. “I shot myself, but I killed my ego.”
Don’t confuse that with glorifying what he’s done. He does not. Most of all, Drew wants to tell his story to help others realize the horror of suicide. It didn’t take him 20 hours on the verge of the bleeding. He didn’t need any titanium in his head or cerebrospinal fluid leaking from his brain. He didn’t need his family to see what they were seeing, to go through what they were going through, to wonder every day if he was really okay, if he would do it again. The pain of death by suicide or attempt is not limited to one person.
Every day now gives him the opportunity to help repair defects. Self. His family. Everyone who hears his story. So Drew is lifting weights in his garage again, swinging in the batting cage, and getting used to his new normal to make baseball history. He is writing for the first time in his life. He stands in front of a mirror and stares at himself, visible and invisible scars, the new contours of his face, a face that is supposed to see the world, no matter what it looks like.
“How can I go through this and not find a way to help other people or affect other people’s lives?” he says. “Just let that happen and just get on with my life like I was before? There is no way. This was a huge sign. A huge, painful sign to help people get through something that they not thinking is winable. “
Drew is convinced that he should do something. That much, he now knows, was clear when he opened his eyes and found that he was still alive.
JUST PAST 8 p.m. On April 16, Drew looked around and was confused. What happened? Why am i still here?
He saw blood everywhere. He wanted to wipe it off. Get off the couch, he told himself. Maybe someone wants to keep it.
He was lying on the wooden floor. 30 minutes passed. He held his head and tried to stop the bleeding. He grabbed a dirty towel. It didn’t help. He decided to take a shower. When he entered, the disorientation hit. He slipped and hit the handle with his head, squaring the entry wound. It still didn’t hurt. How? Why?
He curled up in a ball on the shower floor. The water ran over him. He dried off and dropped onto his bed. The blood in his mouth turned his stomach and he returned to the bathroom. He didn’t want to throw up on the carpet. More tidying up for his family.
As he leaned over the toilet, his head hit the china. He peeled up and tried to brush his teeth.
How ridiculous, he thought. Guy with a hole in his head brushing his teeth. Instead, he chuckled his mouthwash to drown out the taste. He pushed toilet paper up his nose to keep the blood from dripping down his throat.
Back to the bedroom. It was around midnight, four hours after he pulled the trigger. When Drew closed his eyes he thought: I will die here.
DREW ROBINSON GREW up on the outskirts of Las Vegas on a street called Magic Moment Lane. He was the youngest child of Renee and Darryl Robinson. His sister Britney was six years older; his brother Chad, four and a half. Drew was a mascot and a punching bag, a tagalong and a hassle, the archetypal little brother who just wanted attention and love.
He snuck into a neighbor’s dog door to steal treats from pets for the Robagerons menagerie: dogs, cats, iguanas, even a caged rat. He hid in closets, in the washer and dryer, wherever he could twist his little body. He stripped off all his clothes, ran outside, got on a bike, and began to ride. Nothing made Britney flinch more than when a friend said, “Your brother is naked again.”
When he was 7 years old, Drew went to Walmart to buy his mother a ring. It was made from chintzy metal and glass chips and cost $ 7.77. Renee carried it until it fell apart. She took the scraps to a jeweler who made them a sturdier version that she still enjoys 20 years later. Every time she puts it on her finger, she thinks of her mischievous boy.
When Drew bought the ring, Renee and Darryl got divorced. It devastated him. He remembers asking himself questions. Is something wrong with me? Why is mom so mad at me? What have I done? He never passed a single one out loud. The Robinsons didn’t talk about such things. They seldom hugged. They only lived from one day to the next.
“The CDC reported that 11% of American adults surveyed in June viewed suicide. Thoughts of suicide among 18-24 year olds was 26%.”
“We weren’t all very good at handling our emotions,” says Drew. “And that caused a lot of stress and internal struggles. I think we all had the idea of the perfect family and things like that. When it didn’t do it justice, we really questioned everything we did.”
After the divorce, the Robinson family split up. The boys moved in with Darryl. Britney stayed with Renee. They found similarities in one place: the baseball field. Chad grew up to 6-foot-5 and was widely recognized as one of the best preparatory right-handed in the country. Drew was too small, but nimble, sleek, and natural. Almost every weekend, the Robinsons would gather for a baseball tournament and put aside any animus to support the boys.
Chad, who was designed by Milwaukee in 2006, set an almost impossible standard, yet Drew considered anything but a failure. He longed for perfection. He did vars as a freshman at Silverado High School, played some sophomores, had a growth spurt before junior year and became a prospect: 6-foot-1 with a strong left-handed swing and the ability to shortstop and play the outfield – the best player at Silverado since his brother.
He was popular. Girls loved him. He loved her until the next one came – until he met Daiana Anguelova. He was just about to graduate from Silverado. He asked a mutual friend to sign his yearbook. Daiana was there. Drew didn’t mean to be rude so he wondered if she wanted to write something. She did. “You’re a cutie,” it said.
Long before that moment, she had said to another friend, “I have to meet him.” There was something magnetic about Drew, even if it wasn’t an obvious match. He could be loud and bombastic and always try to look and act cool. Neither Daiana nor the world could see Drew as he saw himself – not as a prankster, but as a joke.
Drew would speak to himself in the first person plural as if there were an omnipresent companion sharing in his misery.
“If something went wrong,” says Drew, “I’m like, ‘Why is this happening?’ The voice in my head would answer “Well, of course it happened. It’s us. This is your life. You can’t enjoy these things. ‘”
OVER HIS LAST For two high school seasons, Drew was one of the top players in the historic Vegas class of 2010 Bryce Harper, the first selection in the draft, and Kris Bryantwho would play in college and finish second overall three years later. The Texas Rangers voted Drew in the fourth round with the 136th vote. He received a signing bonus of $ 198,000.
He arrived in Surprise, Arizona in the summer of 2010 with some clothing in a Walmart bag and two spikes. He didn’t have a glove; He borrowed a friend in high school. He showed up on the day of the report in a white t-shirt, basketball shorts and flip flops. His roommate, Jhonny Gomez, told him he needed a collared shirt. He hadn’t brought any. So he borrowed a teal Abercrombie & Fitch polo from Gomez and wore it for the next four days.
Being a professional baseball player isn’t just about playing baseball better than anyone else. It’s accelerated adulthood. It’s an 18-year-old who pays bills, overcomes disappointments, navigates politics, forges relationships, and figures out how to live in a universe designed to root out the weak.
Drew’s brother had already lived this reality. Waking up at 4:30 a.m. requires training. The bus drives. The arm operations. At this point, Chad’s career was stuttering and he’d spent half a decade kicking an unrelated ball only to find out that this game he loved just wasn’t going to love him back.
Had Drew and Chad talked more, Drew would have known how Pro-Ball worked – how its physical elements pale in comparison to its mental strain. But talking wasn’t her thing. Drew would have to tackle the tough learning curve on his own.
“I’ll never forget that. That was the first time that something happened where I thought, ‘Is there something deeper?'”
Baseball revealed cracks in its facade of stability. His admiration for the game wavered. He would love baseball one day and detest it the next. In 2011, on its second season, he hit .163 in Low-A. Despite the fighting, Texas moved him to a league for the entire season in 2012 and he was formidable. His family was passionate about Drew’s career. He and Daiana texted over and over again, but she was in college and he was too baseball-obsessed for a relationship.
Daiana hadn’t heard from him in months when a message rang on her cell phone in the middle of a biology lab. It was the end of the 2013 season. Drew had hit High-A. He wanted to see her when he returned to Las Vegas. They met and found that they were ready for each other. The instinct that had drawn her to him was correct. He was funny, goofy, a perfect match. She was everything his family wasn’t. When baseball’s self-doubt surfaced – Why is this guy moving up and what am I doing wrong and am I good enough? – She tried to root it out.
It wasn’t easy for Drew. He tried to lean on Daiana when he faltered at Double-A in 2014 and excelled at that level in 2015. All your support could not remove his self-doubt and insecurity. Out of nowhere, he broke off the relationship.
“He said, ‘I don’t know why you like me,'” says Daiana. “I was so shocked. In my head I was like, ‘What do you mean, you don’t know why I like you?’ I will never forget that. That was the first time anything happened where I thought, ‘Is there something deeper?’ “
She thought they were getting married, and just like that, it was over. He projected his mistakes onto her. He saw her compassion – Daiana brought food and water to parties to make sure her friends didn’t get out of hand – as a weakness.
“She’s the most selfless person I’ve ever met,” says Drew. “So whenever there was a little hint that I wasn’t happy, she wanted to help. Because I was so closed, I didn’t want that. So it pushed me away from her. I pushed myself away from her.”
The worst parts of himself ruined the best in his life, and he eventually had the perspective to see it. He asked to come back together. She agreed. Then he broke away from her again. The cycle was vicious. She tried to empathize, to rationalize. She tried to see in him what he couldn’t see in himself.
AT 7 IN THE MORNING. On April 17th, Drew woke up and the pain finally hit.
As he moved, parts of his face moved. He wondered whether to get the gun and try again. He decided to take a shower. This time he didn’t fall. He returned to the bed and slipped into and out of consciousness. Hours passed. He heard his phone buzz. He didn’t bother watching the news.
The pain worsened. He tried to sit up but fell to the floor. He was thirsty. He gathered the strength to stand. He stumbled into the kitchen, filled a cup with water, and swallowed a Tylenol to ease the pain.
He passed his coffee table and saw his gun. Instead, he grabbed his cell phone and headed for his room. On the way he stopped in the bathroom and looked into his face. It was unrecognizable. The bullet had mutilated his right eye.
He thought of baseball – if anyone could play with one eye. He wondered if thinking about the future meant he was trying to survive. He found a box of plasters and covered the wound with something. He started asking questions, different from before. That single Tylenol pill – was it an unconscious message that he wanted to heal?
He looked at his cell phone for the first time. He opened a text message.
“Okay to use your garage?”
There was another one. It had arrived an hour after the first one.
The news was from Darryl. He’d been to Drew’s house and exercising in the garage. He never opened the door to the inside of the house.
“I DID IT.”
This was the text Drew sent to his family after Jeff Banister, the Rangers’ manager, told him he’d made the list for opening day 2017. That was the dream. All flew from Las Vegas to Texas on the opening day. Over the years, Darryl and Renee had learned to get along, and so they sat with Britney and Daiana who wouldn’t miss this moment even if she and Drew were no longer together. Chad joined friends in the outside seats and mashed beers.
Drew got two bats in the Rangers’ third game. Seven days later, he was downgraded to Triple-A. This is life for someone who has spent seven years in the minor leagues who played a useful role instead of claiming a position, who lived on the fringes of the sport and had to perform every year so that he wouldn’t be too Everything is called old and unproductive. The game is cruel for infinite reasons, and this was just another one.
He returned on May 28th and was sent downstairs on May 29th. He was called up on June 24, started at Yankee Stadium on June 25, hit a home run for his first major league goal, and was demoted on June 26. The Rangers called him again on July 7th. and he stayed with the team for the remainder of the season, scoring six home runs .224 / .319 / .439 and playing six positions.
After all, he wasn’t just a great leaguer. He was 25 years old with strength, versatility and maybe a future. Not just in baseball, but with Daiana too. During that off-season they reconciled and came back together for the third time.
Even though Drew acted like one of them, he still felt different. The companion’s voice was implacable. It had accompanied him from childhood to adulthood. “It was totally debilitating,” says Drew. In the clubhouse, he questioned every answer he gave reporters. He suspected little things on the field – how he stood during the national anthem, how he ran to his position between innings. At home he wondered why Daiana was looking after him.
Why does everything suck? Why is this happening to me? Is there something i’m doing wrong? Why can’t you just be real with everyone and let them know how much you hate yourself?
The questions intensified.
Is it even worth it? Is my life even worth it?
In 2018 he broke camp with Texas again. He played in 22 of the Rangers’ first 27 games. A hip injury hampered him. The Rangers sent him down, brought him up, sent him down, brought him up.
In December 2018 they exchanged it for the St. Louis Cardinals. He decided this was going to be a fresh start. He suggested Daiana. She said yes. You set a wedding date: November 14, 2020.
Drew made the big league of the Cardinals out of spring training, but was sent to Triple-A a week into the season. He returned on March 31, played three games, and was then sent back down. He returned on April 15 and was demoted again on April 16. Until April 22nd, until April 23rd. He never made it back. He injured his non-throwing left elbow and needed an operation. The cardinals released him on August 28, 2019.
The companion’s voice grew louder. Drew became more depressed. His thoughts of suicide intensified. He understood that he needed help. He started to see a therapist. He read self-development books. He wanted to see himself as he believed everyone else saw himself. “I thought this was the best he ever was,” says Daiana. “… I thought, ‘Wow. He’s doing things for himself that he might have had to do for so long.'”
The San Francisco Giants On January 6, 2020, Drew signed a non-guaranteed minor league contract. In a spring meeting with manager Gabe Kapler, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, and general manager Scott Harris, he said, “I struggle with confidence a lot.” The group thanked him for his openness, but the positive attitude the exchange evoked was fleeting.
Even when Drew continued the therapy sessions, they didn’t rid him of his worst thoughts. His frustration with himself multiplied. He tried to really commit and embrace the vulnerability, but even when Daiana and others saw progress, he saw stasis. Drew didn’t realize that this was typical – that mental health is an ongoing process, improvement not necessarily linear. He was pursuing a panacea that did not exist.
He feared he was destined to end up in the minor leagues again, and he didn’t want to lead Daiana through this life. He worried that he wasn’t good enough for her. He would never be. Drew canceled the wedding.
The terrible questions intensified and led to another: Who would care when I’m gone? When he couldn’t answer that either, he began planning his death.
Drew went to a shooting range in the Phoenix area. Each shot brought up a different question. Could this be a real possibility? How would I even do that? Where would i do this?
No, he said to himself. It’s too extreme. Just talk to someone. We can do it. Just talk to someone. Find someone even if it’s a surface-level conversation. Make a joke Having an easy moment. Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody has to hear it.
Then on March 12th, COVID-19 closed the baseball world.
Drew returned to Las Vegas, to an empty house, to the solitude of not knowing who he was. A week later, he went to a gun store to buy a gun. He returned on March 30th to pick it up. He had no distractions, none of those top-level conversations or jokes or easy moments. He couldn’t go to the stadium, couldn’t meet up with friends, couldn’t go out. Just him and his thoughts that had been building up for two decades.
He wanted to see Daiana. She said no. After the final breakup, she vowed to prioritize herself and her own well-being. That meant limits. When Drew held out his hand, it was straightforward and to the point. No small talk. No questions about how he was doing. When he asked if he could have Ellie, one of her Goldendoodles, she said no. The dog would keep them connected and prevent them from moving on. If she couldn’t have a life with him, she needed one of them.
The days felt like forever. Friends checked into Drew. They wanted to plan something for his 28th birthday on April 20th. He ignored her.
On April 13th, Drew met a woman who had a litter of pups. He found the perfect one. He stroked it and cuddled it. Then a terrible feeling overcame him. He apologized. “Sorry,” he said to the woman. “I can’t take this dog.” He went in a hurry and noticed the puzzled look on the woman’s face.
“She had no idea,” says Drew. “How could she? I couldn’t take the dog because I was going to kill myself.”
AT 3:30 PM On April 17th, Drew was sitting on the couch in the same spot where he shot himself. His gun and cell phone were on his coffee table. He picked up the pistol in his left hand. He was holding the phone in his right hand, the numbers 9-1-1 had been entered. He could pull the trigger. He could tap the green dial button.
He kept thinking, his mind racing. He thought of Daiana, Darryl, Renee, Britney, and Chad. He was thinking of baseball. He thought about the last 20 hours. How? Why? Am I trying to survive?
It came to him immediately, he says. I want to live, Drew said to himself. He didn’t question it. He couldn’t let the companion in, not now. Before hitting send on the phone, he went back to his home screen, opened his camera app, switched to selfie mode, and took a photo. He wanted to remember the moment when he chose life.
Drew called 911. It was 3:44 p.m.
“I need an ambulance,” he said. “I tried to commit suicide last night and I did it. I think I may have detached my eye. I can’t open my right eye and I have a huge hole in my head and I’m in great pain.”
“What did you do?” said the dispatcher.
“I shot myself in the head,” said Drew.
The local police rushed to his home. Six cars drove towards his house.
At 3:51 p.m., the police kicked in the front door. They were afraid this might be an ambush. A man shoots himself in the head and lives 20 hours? No way.
At 3:52 p.m. a police officer asked, “Why did you shoot yourself?” Drew replied in a whisper, “Because I hate myself.”
An ambulance arrived at 3:53 p.m.
At 3:57 p.m., a stretcher with Drew was loaded for transport.
At 3:59 p.m. it withdrew to the UMC Trauma Center.
At 4:00 pm, another policeman shook his head and said what everyone else was thinking: “It’s crazy that he’s still alive.”
TONIGHT, Chad’s phone buzzed. It was text, three words, from a friend who had played high school ball with him and Drew: “Is Drew all right?”
Chad accepted that. But that was a strange question. He texted Drew’s cell phone. No Answer. He has called. Nothing. Chad texted the friend.
“What do you mean, ‘Is Drew okay?'”
The friend’s answer was vague – he had heard that there was an accident. Chad didn’t understand. Which accident? A gunshot wound, wrote the friend. He had been informed by his uncle, Drew’s ex-agent, who had heard from someone with the Cardinals who had been informed that Drew was on their insurance.
Chad called Britney and asked if Drew was okay. She asked what he meant. Chad told her about the text that something might have happened to a gun. Britney collapsed. She couldn’t keep the secret any longer.
A few hours earlier, while driving home from work, she received a call from the hospital. She picked up and learned she was the emergency contact for Drew Robinson.
Britney happened to be approaching the freeway exit for UMC Trauma. She said she would be there soon. No, she was told. Nobody can visit because of COVID-19. She asked what happened. She learned that Drew had asked the hospital not to reveal any details. Just that he lives and breathes. Good, said Britney. Put him on the phone.
“I’m supposed to be alive, Chad. I’m supposed to be alive. I’m supposed to be alive.”
Drew’s memories of those hours after arriving at the hospital are torn to pieces. Getting stitches to close the hole in his head. The pain killers that made him dizzy. And the phone call asking Britney not to tell anyone. She was trying to get details. She asked what happened. Drew said he didn’t want to talk about it.
In the background, Britney heard a nurse ask for his phone and wallet. She told Drew she would swing past his house to get her.
“No,” he pleaded with her. “Don’t go inside. Promise you won’t go inside.”
After the call ended, Britney didn’t know what to do. She called a cousin with whom she is closely related. They wondered if Drew had injured himself. Britney told her boyfriend to come over. Then Chad called. After Britney told him what she knew, Chad hung up, dialed the hospital, and asked to be mended to Drew Robinson’s room. Drew answered.
“What the hell is going on?” Said Chad.
“Who is this?” Drew answered.
The two seldom talked. Nobody could remember the last time they hugged. But when Drew realized it was his brother on the phone, he had something important to say. He ignored Chad’s questions and kept repeating the same five words over and over.
“I’m supposed to be alive, Chad. I’m supposed to be alive. I’m supposed to be alive.”
Suicide attempt survivors, Especially those as violent as Drews have a wide range of outcomes. The combination of physical and mental trauma typically requires rebuilding the body and mind, which can take months or even years. As the fog of anesthesia lifted and Drew woke up from his first operation, he felt love – for the blue blanket that warmed him, for every breath that filled his lungs, for his family.
Never before had he felt compelled to say he loved her. He’d done it out of habit, passively, reflexively, because that’s what you should say. Now, like Drew had done, living overnight in a no man’s land where past, present and future merge into one aimless and endless existence was no longer enough.
Drew was determined that his after would be different from his before. This was his chance. To be what he always wanted and never could. To fix yourself. His family. Other. The compulsion – to love and to share that love – was instantaneous.
It turns out that he is someone who needs to communicate. Spiritually through meditation. Reflective through the written word. Interpersonal through conversation. Drew chatted with every doctor and nurse who explained the damage the bullet had caused and how jagged it would make the way forward. He asked her when he could get his cell phone and call Daiana and Darryl and Renee and Britney and Chad and everyone else he should have talked to. He had so much to tell them and it would feel cheesy and cheesy and so different from him, different from him. And that was fine.
“People who love you want to hear it, and when you don’t have people who love you therapists want to hear it. So many people in this world are ready to help anyone who goes through these things. You are never alone. “”
“I’ll never hold back from asking or telling someone, even if it’s something simple,” says Drew. “”Hey, this little thing is bugging me today. Just tell them. You want to hear it. People who love you want to hear it, and when you don’t have people who love you therapists want to hear it. People want to help you. Professionals want to help you. So many people in this world are ready to help anyone who goes through these things. There may be a certain situation that it feels like you are alone, but you are never alone.
“Think about it. Not everyone can. So if not everyone can, but some people can, that’s like a strength. Why can’t it be a strength? Why can’t it be something that people are proud of?” Hey, I reached out to someone today and told them how I felt and I felt really good. Why can’t that be a strength? “
He had found that strength in the experience, in those 20 hours, in the tiny details that he somehow remembered, in the consideration he made to his family, in the idea that he could come back to play baseball, not just to see if he could, but to show others that dreaming is more necessity than folly.
After a restless night Britney and Chad woke up before sunrise to tell their parents what had happened. They drove to Darryl’s house first.
“Before I tell you what I’m going to tell you,” said Britney, “just know that everything is fine now.”
“Drew shot himself,” said Britney.
Darryl, lying on the couch, jumped to his feet. He went with her to tell Renee. They arrived at their home around 8 a.m. She was on her porch. Chad told her to sit down. Britney explained. Renee collapsed. They talked for hours. In the early afternoon, Darryl, Britney, and Chad decided to go to Drew’s house. Renee stayed behind.
“They said it’s something a mother doesn’t need to see,” she says.
They went through the garage. They weren’t prepared for what they saw. Britney started looking up phone numbers for Hazmat cleaners.
“No,” said Darryl. “We clean it.”
Drew liked to say he and his father couldn’t be alike, and in a way it was true. Nobody spoke much. Both hidden emotions. Darryl was a bricklayer whose hands had been weakened from decades of brick laying. Discipline, drive and work ethic were its defining characteristics. Darryl was sorry. Across the margin, he’d given the boys and the chaos of divorce and done nothing so effortlessly as reminding her every day that he loved her. He tried to be a good father. Usually it was. But there were moments when he failed. This would not be one of them. There was no way he would let a stranger into his son’s house to see the marks of his worst moment.
Darryl roamed the walls. Chad wiped the floor. Britney took care of the towels, pillows and blankets. She borrowed an industrial carpet cleaner from her office. They were on their hands and knees for two hours, knowing that they could not erase their reality. They were determined to wipe away as much of it as possible.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no one was able to visit Drew in the hospital. Throughout all of this and for the next few days, Drew was left alone again. Darryl called punctually at 6 a.m. every day as the nurses changed shifts to see how he slept. Britney played gatekeeper. There was a password to connect to Drew over the phone. She found out who had received it. The doctors called her with information about his recovery. She carried a notepad everywhere, jotting down messages and questions from family and friends. After speaking with Drew, she posted a group text with that day’s update.
Daiana received Britney’s messages. You weren’t enough. She still loved Drew no matter how many times he broke her heart. And if she couldn’t see him, she would find a way to get as close as possible. Every night she put Ellie and her other dog, Brodi, in the car, drove to the hospital, and parked in the dark. She took out her cell phone and texted Drew – simple messages like what she’d done that day, how the dogs were. There would be time for serious conversation, time for answers. Right now, that was what she had to offer someone who, in a less vulnerable case, made it clear that he needed her there with him. This would clearly tell him: I am.
AS IT WAS When Drew went home, he asked Renee to pick him up. He had spent 12 days at UMC and an additional five days in a mental hospital that was mandatory for suicide survivors. Drew didn’t feel he belonged there, but he didn’t elaborate on it. This is how old Drew would have dealt with disillusionment.
In the mental health facility, Drew had been working on a vase he had given Renee. He apologized for the Catawampus paint job. He still hadn’t overcome his lack of depth perception. The ride was mostly calm. Not because it was weird – he says it felt like his mother was picking him up from a game – but because they both knew where they were going. Renee stopped at the new front door of his house. “Are you ready to go in?” She asked.
The carpet was different, the coffee table in the wrong place, the couch pushed back more than usual, but it looked like home. Drew had to find out if it still felt that way. He went to the couch and sat down where he shot himself.
“I wanted to feel it again,” he says. “I wanted to feel the power. I didn’t want to feel the bad side, I wanted to feel the power. I’m still here.”
It wasn’t just the couch. He wanted to see everything. He went into the bathroom and stared at the shower. He looked out over the bedroom. He studied the floorboards, even the ones with a bullet hole. When Daiana, Darryl, Britney and Chad visited him at his house that evening, he led them step by step, detail by detail, through the 20 hours. They didn’t say anything. Drew could see the distress on their faces. “Nobody understands how I did it,” he says. “Nobody has to.”
He said you could ask him anything. So they did.
“What could I have done?”
Nothing. It was my responsibility, not yours.
“How come I didn’t know?”
Because I was good at hiding my sadness.
“Why did you do that?”
Drew didn’t have a good answer to that question. He remembered what he said to the policeman: I hate myself. And sometimes that’s all it takes.
He wanted her to forgive themselves. He had a similar conversation with Renee while he was in the hospital. He assured her it wasn’t her fault. That it wasn’t something she had or hadn’t done. Drew released her from the impulse to blame herself. As many times as she yelled at him as a kid, whatever she said about Darryl, he forgave her.
He promised Daiana that he would have done what he did even if she had let him take Ellie. He told Darryl that he was good enough – that he was anything Drew wanted in a father. He thanked Britney: for the collateral damage she had sustained during the divorce, for the family glue, for everything she had done in the past two weeks, and for all the things he knew she would be in the future would do. He reminded Chad that he would always be there for him. That their shared experiences were important. They grew up in the same environment and had the same problems. If Chad had to talk, if he wanted to hang out, Drew would be there.
That hit Chad hard. He was the older brother. He should be the protector. And here was the tagalong, the little pain in the ass that comforted him.
“And that,” says Chad, “is when I realized how strong he really is.”
That’s what Drew won’t remember most that night. It was before he and Chad first met. They closed their eyes. Each saw the other open his arms. They leaned over and hugged. They pressed each other. Nobody wanted to let go.
“It’s the first since we were kids, isn’t it?” Said Drew.
THE HUMAN EYE is a remarkably resilient machine that is harder than it feels, surrounded by bones, muscle and fat that is set back in the eye socket to provide adequate protection from everyday life, but not a direct impact of a 9mm bullet that leaks from a handgun at 750 mph.
When the bullet entered Drew’s head, it broke his right eyeball almost instantly. It went on over the orbital wall and through the sinuses, the hollow areas around the nose. It ruptured his frontal sinus and caused cerebrospinal fluid to leak, which poses a significant risk of infection. The main sinus arteries that could have caused catastrophic bleeding in a stroke were missing. The bullet whistled past his left orbital floor and above his left cheekbone, millimeters from ruining his other eye.
“I don’t know how that happened,” says Dr. Tina Elkins, ear, nose and throat surgeon and assistant professor of ear, nose and throat medicine at UNLV. “I have no idea how it was missing and I didn’t injure that eye.”
The doctors had worked miracles and put Drew back together physically. The first operation was to save his right eyelid. The second replaced the broken bones. The 1 “large and 1¼” wide hole in Drew’s head was the perfect entrance for Elkins. She used three 0.6mm thick titanium plates and 14 self-tapping 1.2mm screws to create a new eye socket. The procedure lasted about two hours and brought back most of the symmetry in his face. The third was to repair the fracture in his sinus and contain cerebrospinal fluid leakage which, if left untreated, could have resulted in meningitis, brain abscesses, chronic headaches, and other related pain.
Drew’s right eye was beyond repair. The bullet shredded its insides and severed the optic nerve. On June 11, UMC Trauma was planning a fourth operation, enucleation – the removal of Drew’s eye. Dr. Shoib Myint replaced the eye ball with an implant that left space for an eye prosthesis in the front.
Myint has been a plastic eye surgeon for 22 years, an ophthalmology specialty that requires skillful touch in two ways: with the eye itself and the consequences of the operation. The results of most medical procedures are obscured – covered by clothing or on parts of the body that are rarely seen. The eye is a focal point of human interaction, a landmark for other eyes, and the psychology of losing one can be devastating. How Drew reacted to his astonished Myint.
“He’s the only one in my career who has studied enucleations – I’ve done a lot of them – who came out in that state of mind and who has some kind of belief, some kind of purpose,” Myint says. “I admire him for that.”
A few months after these initial surgeries, on September 3, Drew drove about 20 miles to his old neighborhood near Magic Moment Lane to visit Janet Chao, an ophthalmologist who runs the Prosthetics Advancement Lab. She makes eyes for people without her. The process takes a few sessions: first get an impression of the eye socket, then use acrylic and shape the prosthesis, which is not spherical but fits over the globe. Myint implants like a colossal contact lens.
Two days earlier, Drew had spent hours in a chair in Chao’s office when she stared at his left eye, using oils and fine brushes to recreate the colors of the prosthesis. Her craftsmanship was evident down to the smallest detail – the tiny black spot in his hazel-colored iris, the light brown ring that surrounds his pupil. She had used a microscopic red thread to copy the pattern of his blood vessels. Now it had been heated and healed and shimmered with the life of his left eye. Drew lifted his right eyelid and put the prosthesis in place. It was a perfect fit.
He wore it at home that day. His family greeted him there. He was beaming. Everyone did it.
“It represents my new look at life,” says Drew. “Although I have one eye less, I haven’t seen such clear things in my entire life.”
YOU WANT believe it. You want to believe it so badly. They want everything Drew says to be true, that every smile is real, that every laugh is real, that every chestnut that deserves an inspirational poster is rooted in reality and no other veneer. He hid his pain for two decades. His family fights the thought that he could do it again.
It’s all so fresh, so fragile. You hear him say thank you for things that don’t seem to warrant gratitude. Thank you on a bad day because it helps him appreciate the good better. Thank you for being late as it is a reminder to leave earlier next time. This is his process. Drew’s family knows the facts. Survivors of attempted suicide are at significantly higher risk of future suicide death. You live in an America where it is estimated that one in four adults has a diagnosable mental disorder.
“I didn’t figure everything out, but I’m working on it,” says Drew. “It’s not something you just achieve. You don’t just achieve self-growth. You don’t get to a point where you just have it and you don’t have to work on it again. It’s not like a tool that you just get it and you just have it forever. You don’t get to a point where, “Oh, I’m happy today. That’s it. I will be happy for the rest of my life. “On the contrary, it is just like:” I had a tough day. “That doesn’t mean the rest of your life will suck.”
Between the good and the bad days, most end roughly the same. He usually wakes up before his alarm. He calls Ellie and Brodi, who have stayed with him for the first few months after he left the hospital, and plays with them. From there he goes to the kitchen, drinks a jug of water, returns to his office and meditates for 20 minutes. Then to the garage for a morning workout. He will come back for breakfast. Despite losing his sense of taste and smell after the surgeries, Drew learns to do more than just make oatmeal. He wants to cook for others.
In the afternoon, he tries to make at least three calls – connecting, catching up, asking questions, and talking about how he’s doing. He will exercise again, either in his garage or in the batting cages or in a field before returning home to listen to music or watch TV or spend quality time with his family. Before he goes to bed, Drew takes out his diary. Sometimes he writes a page or two, sometimes just a sentence. In either case, each entry ends with the same eight words.
I love myself and i love my life!
He speaks to therapists several times a week. He understands that antidepressant use is a treatment to balance his brain, just as some people with diabetes regulate themselves with insulin. He gets a lot of sleep, exercises like crazy, monitors his diet. With the help and encouragement of the former giant hunter Pence, he meditates. He occasionally works with Darryl on a construction site or drives postmates to scrape up extra money and spend his time.
Drew doesn’t see this as his recovery alone. The Robinsons began healing together. You hear Drew talk about the future and feel hopeful. They listen to his struggles and it reassures them that he is not hiding. They are not either.
Chad speaks openly about seeing a therapist. It started almost two years ago. The arc of his baseball career had left a lingering discontent that he needed to address. “It helped me a lot,” he says, “but I’ve still got a lot to do and that’s one thing Drew helped me understand. He may have said something a few months ago because we as athletes may be . ” I’m just worried about the endgame. We don’t notice the short, small victories. “
Britney was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in high school. For years she has tried to remind herself that she was enough and wished that the people around her would do the same. “Communication in my family has never been a good thing,” she says. “Personally, I’m not afraid to express my feelings. I just say, ‘Oh, yes, you understand everything now.'”
Together, the Robinsons met with Dr. Shana Alexander, a clinical psychologist who heads the Giants’ employee assistance program, at a family counseling session on Zoom. When you need to talk moreshe told them please call me. The next day, Darryl did it. “I try not to show weakness to anyone or to show my feelings,” he says. “And I could do it to her on the phone because no one was around.”
Another evening, Britney spoke to Drew about her early 20s. Your bad friend. Your drug use. How she started researching suicide and thinking about the method. How she envied Renee’s cousin’s daughter, who had died of suicide.
“You just feel helpless. Like nothing,” says Britney. “My thing was, I just felt like it would be easier for my friends and family not to be here. So they didn’t have to deal with my ups and downs and my brain problems because something wasn’t mine true brain. I press it on other people. And I thought: Without me it would be better. “
It looked so familiar to Drew.
“In any scenario, I’d think about my mom finding me and I just couldn’t do it,” says Britney. “I just couldn’t do it. It breaks my heart because I know how awful it was. And to know that he felt even worse than me – I couldn’t imagine being there. I could myself Really can’t imagine that because it’s such an intense feeling. “
In the months after Drew returned home, Britney’s responsibility disappeared. She was used to taking notes, checking calls, and sending texts that everyone was waiting for. When Drew sought his purpose, she lost hers. Suicide attempts leave the kind of choppy wake that can mislead even a person with years of therapy and proper medication.
Britney found solace in an unexpected place: the words of the person who had supported her all these hours.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Drew told her.
IT HAS A CHANCE.
That’s what they all thought when the ball left the racket on October 21st. For the first time since he lost his eye, Drew Robinson practiced hitting outside. Behind the record that captured the moment on video was Jake Hager, who was selected in the first round in 2011. On the hill, Sam Sadovia, a local baseball coach, was throwing punch drills. Outside the field, Johnny Field, a big leaguer in 2018, was shaggy. Although Drew’s swing looked no different from the big leagues – the aggressive bat wobble, the kick with a knee bent to almost 90 degrees, the one-handed finish – none of his previous 30 or so swings had resulted in a home run. This sent the ball hissing in the direction of the right midfield in the Las Vegas Ballpark, the triple-A stadium, where local professionals take part in off-season hitting sessions.
“Get up,” yelled Field.
Drew had done every swing indoors for the past three months. On July 29th, he took the first blow on this new reality. He had a stain over his right eye and was knocking off a tee. Sadovia, who calls Drew “my third child,” immediately thought to herself: He’s better with one eye than me with two. Over the days and weeks he continued to improve. He started hitting high speed fastballs. He was faced with machines throwing curveballs and sliders, and he handled them well. Now the challenge was to do it in a real stadium and the ball was climbing.
“Get up,” repeated Hager.
Drew’s relationship with the game is complicated. It was his old purpose, and as much as he won’t blame the sport for April 16th, it can’t complete it either. To go back, to re-enter the world that drove him to his worst impulses, is dangerous. He knows it. He also knows he’s in a better place to deal with it.
He no longer needs baseball in an elementary way. This is a test. About his strength and determination and willingness to flirt with failure. It is extremely difficult to achieve pitching in the major league with two eyes. Doing this with one eye and the back only increases the difficulty. Only one man has lost an eye and played in the big leagues: Whammy Douglas, who threw 47 innings for them Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957.
Myint, the eye surgeon, says that binocular vision of two eyes is important for depth perception at close range. But rackets usually choose to swing when the ball is about 45 feet from the baseplate, where depth perception issues wouldn’t necessarily manifest themselves, according to Myint. And because Robinson’s brain has already shown a unique ability to track high-speed movements as a baseball player, the skill he had shown in all of those punching exercises could be very real, according to Myint.
“Get up,” Drew said, more quietly than the others.
Over the years, Drew found the physical part easy and the mental part angry. With that one punch training home run, he was able to reverse that trend. If he wasn’t as mentally strong as he is now, there is no way he would be able to do this physically.
“Let’s go-o-o-o-o,” roared Hager.
The ball crept over the fence. Drew took an easy jump and jogged to the first base. He stopped there. He would save the full trot for a game – with the possibility of someone offering him the chance to play it again.
DREW STAYED IN Contact with the giants after leaving the hospital. It wasn’t just Alexander, the clinical psychologist. He texted Kapler, the manager, and Zaidi, the president of baseball operations, and Harris, the GM. He would send pictures of himself with his new eye and videos of himself taking 415 pounds of deadlifts and swings. In early May, when people around baseball were honoring frontline workers, Kapler put tape on his jersey with the names of Drew’s nurses at UMC.
In the fall, Drew asked if he could speak to the Giants’ players and staff. World Suicide Prevention Day was September 10th. Playing baseball was important, but fungible. If Drew wanted to help others – not just those in his circle, but every struggling soul he could reach – it was the most powerful way to tell his story, he thought. Die Riesen begrüßten die Idee.
Er kam am 9. September im Oracle Park an, dem Tag, an dem Waldbrände in Kalifornien den Himmel orange färbten. Er war nervös. Er trug eine Maske mit einem Giants-Logo. Er trug seine Prothese nicht. Die Spieler, Trainer und andere Mitarbeiter versammelten sich draußen. Alexander stellte ihn vor. Er griff nach dem Mikrofon.
“Zuerst möchte ich mich nur für alles bedanken”, sagte Drew. “Was ich in den letzten Monaten durchgemacht habe, war die stärkste Erfahrung auf die positivste Art und Weise. Die Lehren, die ich aus dem, was ich durchgemacht habe, gezogen habe, möchte ich teilen.”
Er sagte ihnen, er wolle eine Reflexion lesen, die er schrieb. Er warnte die Gruppe: “Es ist ein bisschen schwer. Aber ich möchte, dass ihr wisst, dass dies etwas ist, das mir wichtig ist.” Drew holte tief Luft und begann zu sprechen.
“Am 16. April, gegen 20 Uhr, versuchte ich Selbstmord und schoss mir in den Kopf. Einen Tag später, am 17. April, gegen 16 Uhr, wählte ich selbst 911, um mein Leben zu retten. Später in dieser Nacht war nicht nur mein Leben gerettet, aber es wurde wiedergeboren und neu gestartet. “
Drew sprach ungefähr sieben Minuten lang. Über die Wichtigkeit des Sprechens und die Notwendigkeit für andere und wie er beabsichtigte, Baseball einen weiteren Schuss zu geben. Er sah Leute weinen. Einige dachten an Familie oder Freunde, die durch Selbstmord verloren gegangen waren. Andere weinten um ihn.
“Ich erinnere mich, dass ich diesen Gedanken im Kopf hatte: Das ist der härteste Typ, den ich je getroffen habe”, sagte Giants Outfielder Alex Dickerson sagt. “Nicht nur körperlich, sondern auch geistig und wie mutig er ist, das zu tun, was er tut.”
Drews Worte stimmten mit Dickerson überein. Baseball hatte fast ein Jahrzehnt lang mit seinem emotionalen Wohlbefinden zu tun. Wie Drew erreichte er um seinen 25. Geburtstag die großen Ligen. Verletzungen haben ihn für zwei volle Spielzeiten pausiert. Er wusste nicht, ob er jemals zurückkehren würde. Die Riesen erwarben ihn von der San Diego Padres im Jahr 2019 und gab ihm Vollzeit bei Fledermäusen. Im Jahr 2020 schlug er .298 und schlug .576. Er war einer der besten Spieler in der National League.
Nachdem Drew aufgehört hatte zu sprechen, zog Dickerson ihn beiseite. Sie erinnerten sich und stellten fest, dass sie 2007 bei einem Highschool-Turnier gegeneinander gespielt hatten. Drew verband sich auch mit anderen – über Baseball, über Kämpfe, darüber, was es bedeutet, am Leben zu sein.
“Er hat die Macht der Verwundbarkeit demonstriert und sie durch einfaches Sprechen so einfach aussehen lassen”, sagt Alexander. “Er ermutigte die Leute, sich einfach miteinander zu verbinden und mehr zu reden. Und das an sich war eine große Barriere, die wir durchbrochen haben, um ihn hereinzubringen und den Spielern zu zeigen, dass wir alle anfällig für psychische Erkrankungen sind. Wir können alle manchmal kämpfen. Das tut es nicht.” Es spielt keine Rolle, wer wir sind, wie reich wir sind, wie sportlich wir sind, wie perfekt unser Leben aussieht. Es ist viel mehr als das. “
Aus diesem Grund schloss sich Alexander letztes Jahr den Giants an: um die Bedeutung der psychischen Gesundheit auf die gleiche Weise hervorzuheben, wie Organisationen normalerweise körperliche Fähigkeiten ausüben. Drews Rede vor dem Team war ein perfektes Beispiel. Und Drew verließ San Francisco an diesem Tag und fühlte sich zufrieden: Wenn dies das letzte war, was er jemals mit den Giants gemacht hatte, fühlte er sich gut dabei.
“Ich erinnere mich, dass ich diesen Gedanken im Kopf hatte: Das ist der härteste Typ, den ich je getroffen habe. Nicht nur körperlich, sondern auch geistig und wie mutig er ist, das zu tun, was er tut.”
Giants Outfielder Alex Dickerson
Am 22. Oktober, einen Tag nachdem er den Homerun im Freien absolviert hatte, geriet Drew in Panik. Er hatte einen Text von Kapler verpasst. “Bist du wach?” es sagte.
Als Drew anrief, erzählte ihm Kapler, dass er mit Zaidi und Harris gesprochen hatte, und alle waren sich einig: Er musste bei der Organisation bleiben. Sie kümmerten sich um ihn. Sie wollten Leute wie ihn. Sie glaubten, er könne immer noch Baseball in der Major League spielen. Die Giants boten Robinson einen Vertrag mit einer Einladung zum Frühjahrstraining in der Minor League an. Er würde nicht im selben Clubhaus sein wie die Spieler der großen Liga. Es würde kein garantiertes Geld oder einen Dienstplanplatz geben. Aber er würde die Chance bekommen, sich dorthin zu arbeiten.
“Diese Gelegenheit wurde nicht nur Drew gegeben”, sagt Zaidi. “Er hat es verdient. Er hatte im letzten Frühjahr ein großartiges Camp bei uns und es ist ihm erstaunlich gelungen, nach außen zu schauen und einen großen Beitrag zur Organisation zu leisten, auch wenn er unermüdlich arbeiten musste, um wieder auf das Feld zu kommen. Wir sind stolz darauf, dass er ein ist.” Riese, und wir freuen uns, ihn um einen Job im Lager kämpfen zu sehen. “
Drew kann sich nicht erinnern, was er gesagt hat. Nur dass er über die Worte fummelte und Kapler nicht genug danken konnte. Er würde wieder Baseball spielen. Als er am 17. April in den Spiegel schaute, das Loch in seinem Kopf sah, bemerkte, dass sein Augapfel in Stücke gerissen war und dachte an Baseball – es war nicht phantasievoll.
Diesmal teilte er die guten Nachrichten nicht mit einem Text aus drei Wörtern. Er rief alle an – Daiana, Darryl, Renee, Britney und Chad. Er überlegte, wie es wäre, sie wieder auf dem Feld zu sehen, um mit einer Familie zu feiern, die sich tatsächlich ganz anfühlt.
“Auch wenn er es nicht tut [make it], er hat so viel mehr zu sagen und zu tun in seinem Leben “, sagt Darryl.” Wir alle lernen gerade von Drew. Bessere Leute zu sein. “
MITTE NOVEMBER, ein vertrautes Gefühl ergriff Drew. Etwas war nicht in Ordnung. Es begann mit einem übersprungenen Training, dann einer verpassten Meditationssitzung oder einem Tagebucheintrag. Das Leben braucht so viel, und der Druck dieser Routine, der neuen Erwartungen, die er an sich selbst gestellt hatte, konvergierte. Seine Gedanken begannen zu rasen. Er sagte sich, er sei faul. Er hat nicht die nötige Arbeit geleistet, um gesund zu bleiben. Sein Selbstgespräch klang wie der Begleiter. Wenn ich die Arbeit nicht machen kann, warum sollte ich dann Glück verdienen? Wenn ich nicht einmal genug tun kann, um Glück zu verdienen, worum geht es dann? Er hat sein Zimmer einen Tag lang nicht verlassen, dann zwei, dann drei.
“Ich hatte einfach das Gefühl, die Welt würde untergehen”, sagt er. “Ich hatte meinen ersten passiven Selbstmordgedanken, der mich wirklich erschreckte: ‘Ich wünschte, ich wäre erfolgreich.'”
No. Das versuchte sich Drew zu sagen. No. Diesmal wusste er, dass er die Werkzeuge hatte. Er verstand, was er tun musste. Er rief Daiana in sein Zimmer. Er sah ihr in die Augen. Und er sagte: “Ich glaube, ich kämpfe gerade gegen Depressionen.”
“Obwohl ich es nicht hören wollte, war ich so dankbar”, sagt Daiana. “Es ist das erste Mal, dass er so etwas sagt. Nur so offen und ehrlich darüber, wie er sich fühlt, anstatt dass ich mich frage, was los ist.”
“Ich habe nicht alles herausgefunden, aber ich arbeite daran. Sie erreichen nicht nur Selbstwachstum. Sie kommen nicht an einen Punkt, an dem Sie es einfach haben und nicht arbeiten müssen wieder dran. ”
Diese Worte auszusprechen half. Drew sprach mit Freunden und Familie, mit seinen Therapeuten. Die Traurigkeit ließ langsam nach. Er kehrte zu seiner Routine zurück. Daianas Erinnerungen waren eine Salbe. Er musste sich an den Tagen, an denen er zu kurz kam, Gnade geben. Zu wissen, dass es in Ordnung ist, nicht in Ordnung zu sein. Um weiter zu reden.
“Die meisten Menschen in dieser Situation, wenn Sie ihnen erzählen, was passiert ist, denken, wow, das ist großartig. Er hat überlebt”, sagt Daiana. “Niemand erkennt die Dinge, die damit einhergehen. Es ist nicht so, dass du so eine extreme Sache überlebst und alles perfekt ist. Du fängst von vorne an. Die Vergangenheit ist nicht vorbei.”
Nicht nur für Drew. Vor ein paar Jahren las Daiana eine Geschichte über Zwangsstörungen und verspürte einen Anflug von Anerkennung. Angst hatte sie mehr als 15 Jahre lang gequält, und plötzlich hatte sie einen Namen für die Gefühle, die sie erlebt hatte. Sie hatte noch nie mit Drew ausführlich darüber gesprochen. Er hatte seine eigenen Probleme. Daiana wollte ihn nicht belasten. Dann kam der 16. April.
“Er, der seine Geschichte erzählt, hat es mir leichter gemacht, darüber zu sprechen”, sagt Daiana. “Ich weiß, dass ich nicht mehr alleine kämpfe.”
Die Wochen seitdem sind für beide besser geworden. Sie genossen die Familienzeit zu Weihnachten. Drew schlief um 22:30 Uhr ein. an Silvester und Daiana lachten ihn dafür aus. Letzte Woche absolvierte Drew ein Live-Schlagtraining gegen Chasen Bradford, einen Pitcher der großen Liga von 2017 bis 2019, und machte einen Homerun auf einem Sinker. Es gibt gute und schlechte Tage, hohe und niedrige Momente, und fast immer sind Drew und Daiana miteinander, um die ersteren zu feiern und die letzteren zu überstehen. Beide wissen, nicht zu weit nach vorne zu schauen.
Rückblickend gibt es jedoch einen bestimmten Tag, den Drew nicht vergessen kann. Es war kurz vor der Depression. He and Daiana were at a park. Drew was supposed to catch fly balls, except another friend who came along wasn’t very adept at hitting them. Daiana volunteered. She choked up on the bat, tossed the ball in the air and took a whack. Drew coasted over, caught it and bounced it back to her. She swung and missed three times in a row and they both laughed before she started grooving them. She would hit; he would catch. She would give him something; he would return it. It was a perfect day on what was supposed to be a perfect day: Nov. 14, their wedding date.
“In a weird way, I had peace,” Daiana says. “It wasn’t the right time. I wasn’t in the best place, and he wasn’t, either. I didn’t go back and think what if. We were just living. And it was OK.”
DREW STILL CAN’T pinpoint exactly what caused him to hit the green dial button that day, but the clues always have been there. In the hours before he pulled the trigger, and throughout those 20 hours that followed, his thoughts constantly converged on his family, on Daiana. On who would find him. Who would have to clean. Who would blame themselves. How they would go on without him.
Reminders of April 16 are everywhere. Drew kept the shorts he was wearing. The towel that absorbed so much of the blood. The note he wrote. His family removed the plank of wood where the bullet had lodged and had it turned into a necklace for him. Chad has the gun. Drew isn’t sure what he wants to do with it. He could toss it into the Grand Canyon or destroy it with an acetylene torch. For now, he doesn’t really think about it.
In the nightstand that once held his gun, Drew keeps a small jewelry box with a keepsake inside. It’s the bullet that burrowed through his head and changed his life. Sometimes he’ll remove it from the box, roll it between his index finger and thumb, use it to remind himself where he was and where he is.
“I look at this thing and think, I’m stronger than you,” he says. “I’m stronger than what I thought I was.”
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide or are in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or icidepreventionlifeline.org.