"The devastation has never left me," A's reliever Pat Neshek said.
On Oct. 2, Neshek and his wife Stephanee experienced their best moment with the birth of their first child, Gehrig John. The next day, the A's beat the Texas Rangers to win the American League West.
Later that day, Gehrig John was dead. He just stopped breathing.
Stephanee nevertheless encouraged her husband to leave their Florida home and rejoin the A's in Detroit, where they were primed to start the American League playoffs.
Pitching was therapeutic, temporarily.
"I don't think I've had time to come to terms with what happened," Neshek said. "We had to grieve in public, which we didn't know how to do.
"When the season was over it was mid-October. Then the holidays were right there. We couldn't enjoy anything. Christmas was really hard."
There is still no closure. The autopsy didn't give enough clarity about the cause of death, and now there are lawsuits pending, so no one can talk about the specifics.
But it's March in Arizona.
The A's gave him a guaranteed contract, a big deal for someone who is just now getting over Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in 2008.
More than that, Neshek says he's found a home in Oakland.
"I grew up in Minnesota, I was drafted by the Twins, and I thought I'd always play there at home," he said. "Then the injury happened.
"I was with the Padres in 2011, then last year I was with the Orioles in the minors. There was a game in Buffalo where I'd just gotten beat up. I'm sitting there after thinking 'I didn't give up a run in 10 games in spring training, I didn't make the roster, now it's Aug. 1 and I'm getting beat up in Buffalo. What happened to my career?'"
Two days later, the A's bought his contract from the Orioles and he was put on the big league roster. "Now life is great," he said. "My wife is pregnant, and I'm pitching in a pennant race."
He pitched well, posting a 1.37 ERA in 24 games.
Then came the birth and death of his child.
"It was a heartbreaking time," general manager Billy Beane said.
The A's put patches on their uniforms -- GJN -- and the gesture caused Neshek to break down in front of the team. Neshek said he will "be forever grateful to the organization, the way they reached out to us, the way they supported us."
It's been a long road back, but this spring has been something of a revelation.
"I still feel the devastation, and I don't know if that will change," Neshek said, "but this is the happiest I've been, maybe since I've been playing baseball. I feel like Oakland could be a place to be for a long time."
He's likely to make the opening day roster. In seven appearances this spring, his ERA is zero. He's given up five hits and two walks in seven innings.
Now Neshek can use the words "devastation" and "happiest" in the same sentence.
"I never would have believed it either, five months ago," he said. "You can't really put it behind you, but at the same time you have to live your life."
It's easier when you can smile.