Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Hung With Pablo All Afternoon

Grady and I—and Pablo's empty saddle—riding around the Silverlake Reservoir this evening. It's hard to see in this pic, but I am also wearing Pablo's 'Mike and the Bike' helmet.

Early this evening, we rode in honor of Pablo. I rode the 'connect bike' that P and I ride all the time. His saddle is symbolically empty. Now I will ride alone, with Pablo guiding me and watching over me. And so will Grady. We plan to do Reservoir rides regularly, and I will ride with Pablo's connect bike on all those rides.

Grady and I were joined by Polly, Peter, Dean, Tony, Acacia and our lovely and sage neighbor Laurence Frauman. It was a wonderful way to honor Pablo—doing something that he loved, something that we did a lot of in the last couple weeks of his life. When we passed Silverlake Park, we stopped and did Geronimo jumps off the granite wall, just as Pablo would have done if he were with us. I will post Peter and Tony's great pics of the jumps tomorrow when they email them to me.

Let me tell you what happened before the ride....

At around 6 p.m., Jo Ann, Grady and I carried our beloved little boy Pablo in our arms. We picked him up from our bed and we carried him up the stairs, out the door and into the waiting transport from Forest Lawn Cemetery. We took slow, deliberate steps. We carried him with dignity and care and love. How else could we do it? We were scared. And we knew were doing it the way Pablo would do it for any of us. Nobody ever sent us a road map, so we are making this part up as we go. And, so far, using dignity and love as our coordinates, we're doing alright.

Pablo's physical self laid in our bed all afternoon, receiving kisses, snuggles, and gentle caresses from us and our family and close friends who were at the house. We talked to him, as if he were still in that body. We believe that Pablo can hear us now, and that he is part of the Universe and that he is with us, in us, around us.... We also believe that Pablo is in Heaven, and that once he left the plane where we exist, he went to this higher place. While we spent our final hours with Pablo, Peter and Brie began making arrangements with Forest Lawn, where Pablo will be laid to rest next week. (We will host a giant memorial and celebration of Pablo's life; the next day will be the funeral. Details will be posted here late Monday). P + B did everything so that we could spend all our time with Pablo. A handful of other friends were here too, keeping things safe and sacred within our home while we wept, laughed, hugged, talked, reminisced, and continued telling Pablo that we love him and that he is a brave boy and that we will be OK. We told him these things a thousand times in his final days, hours and moments of life.

In fact, the second last thing Pablo said was 'Say something!' He said this because, for a brief moment, there was a lull in our telling him that he was going to be OK, that we love him, that it's OK for him to stop fighting and rest.... He just opened his eyes for a second, then screamed 'Say something!' What an amazing person. Even with his second last breath, he told us exactly what he wanted and needed. We love him even more for this.

I want to tell you what Pablo's last words were. Listen carefully, because this is the greatest testament to Jo Ann and her wonderful motherhood, and how wonderful motherhood can be with the right child and the right mother. Pablo's last words were 'I want Mommy!'

And her response, as always, was 'You've got me Pablo. I'm here.' He had been in her arms for hours when he said this. He would wake up from his Morphine-induced naps, and, we believe, he would wake up scared. And every time, he would scream the same thing: 'I want Mommy!'

Jo Ann is that kind of mother. That's why we love her. That's why Pablo knew he could call on her. She is his cornerstone of safety and warmth and all that is good in his life and in his world.

Now, the next step begins... And, so far, it is every bit the emotional roller coaster the past 13 months have been... Except it hurts in a much, much different way. With Pablo gone from our physical lives, and with his physical self no longer here, and the fight to keep him alive no longer here, it immediately feels like we are floating in space, dodging chunks of emotional asteroids. When I say 'dodging,' I don't mean avoiding. I mean getting hit with the full force of memories, Pablo's toys, clothes, pictures, videos, energy that cover every square inch of our house.

We have all wept and wept and wept. At one point I thought I was going to pass out. But this is the purpose of crying and weeping and letting go, isn't it? It's about clearing out. It's about finding the bottom and scrubbing it clean with the tears, the breath, the tornado of release. There is no doubt the sorrow and mourning and tears and gut-wrenching will go on for a long time. But there's also no doubt that our acceptance will grow and take on color and shape and dimension. We're nowhere near that today, of course. But we know that this is the promised land for a family who has lost a boy named Pablo who lived exactly six years and six days.

All these memories are wonderful things that, today, feels so so so bittersweet. No memory of Pablo could ever be painful for us. We want the memories, and his belongings, and his energy. We want to keep Pablo in our hearts and lives. There's no way this won't happen. No way. He was not the kind of dude whose light can be diminished. And we're not the kind of family that forgets.

We really do not know what tomorrow will bring. Or if we'll even be able to sleep tonight. Part of being hopeful, for us, meant that we would not dwell on what it would be like if we lost Pablo. I can't recall a single conversation Jo Ann and I had about this. So, tomorrow will be a new start. Am I scared? Hell yes. Do I want Pablo back? Oh my G, yes! But do we accept that God + the Universe had a different plan for our precious little boy Pablo? Hell yes. Simple as that.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.


Jen said...

I re-read this about 3 times with tear streaming down my face for a family and a little boy I've never met. Your honesty and openness is truly something humbling. Thank you for sharing this very personal story.

My continued love and light to you all.

Vancouver, BC

Unknown said...

Me and my little girl will have a bike ride in his honour this afternoon. Thinking of your family. Alan

Heather said...

I smiled at the Geronimo jumps I will continue to smile, each and every single,solitary time I think of your beautiful boy.All of you that love Pablo so deeply and miss him so very desperately,remain in my constant prayers.I continue to ask God to strengthen you and carry you through the difficult days ahead. Finally, to Jo Ann,my friend...what a privilege and honor it has been to walk this walk alongside you.I have seen with my own two eyes, the depth of the bond between Pablo and yourself ...I am blessed and better because of it.Peace and love to you all.

beth said...

i have been trying to figure out where to put the pablove stickers that dean gave me at the sspu/eulogies show.
one is on my laptop and another is on some streetsign in LA.
no clue why i didnt think of my bike, but that is where one went just now in honor of pablo.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

your strength is an inspiration. at your weakest you see light. i didn't expect to have a midnight cry, but here i am reading this...soggy eyes, heavy heart and with great admiration for the way you fought, fought, fought every step of the way. Pablo knew more love in life than most of us ever will. our thoughts are with you and the family.

love judy (and marc silverman)

Nina said...

Dear Jo Ann, Jeff, Grady,

my thoughts go out to your family. I am incredibly touched by your story and the way you handle this situation. As they quoted at George Harrison's tribute: There never was a time when you or I did not exist. Nor will there be a time when we shall cease to be.

Peace and love from Germany,


Unknown said...

We don't know each other, we've never met, and I never had the pleasure of meeting your son, Pablo. But from one human to another, one father to another, I send my deepest condolences to you and your family. The love you have for your son shines bright for all the world to see, and your dignity and grace is awe inspiring. From myself and my family to you and yours, all the prayers, hope, light, and love in our hearts.

Los Angeles

Stephanie said...

I'm sorry just doesn't say enough. Our family has come to love Pablo through your honest and wonderful telling of your story. We will continue to keep you all in our prayers, and remember that God has our lives planned for us. You have an absolutely amazing family - nothing will change that. Sending big hugs from Illinois.....


Mashley Love said...

pablo is in a better place.

Unknown said...

Your strength, love and courage is truly inspiring, and I am ever humbled and reminded about the fragility and preciousness human lives who make a difference to us. May you continue to find that strength, love and courage in the days ahead and know that just as Pablo was so beautiful in your eyes, he must have felt the same too to be surrounded with so much love. You are a family whose bond is truly inspiring, and my thoughts go out to you.

Les Popoviches said...

You guys are truly amazing...I made myself a soy-almond-butter-cocoa shake last night in honor of Pablo and raised my glass to the sky. He is everywhere now, a child of the Universe.

Oh, and there were massive 30 min. fireworks out here in Montreal last night, over the St-Laurence river; I dedicated them to Pablo (don't think anyone minded!) and watched them for a bit but I was way too sad to keep watching.

We miss you Pablo,
You guys are on our minds and in our hearts and always will be,
Love & Light,

Mary Jane said...

Good Morning! We now have a saint in heaven, interceding for us before the throne of God. Keeping y'all in prayer today, especially at Mass.

Anonymous said...

Jo Ann, Jeff and Grady,
Our hearts are broken and we are so sad but we are grateful to all of you for sharing your journey. We are grateful to you for giving us Pablo. We cherish the times we spent with your precious boy. It is a friendship Henry and Natalia will remember forever. We will continue to keep him in our hearts and know that he changed our lives forever.
Anne, Neal, Henry Natalia, and Owen
New Orleans, LA

libby @ ninesandquines said...

I am crying along with are an amazing family and I will be thinking about you in the coming days and weeks (and months!) as you venture through this journey....

A knowing Dad said...

We know that numb feeling all too well, that feeling of being in emotional limbo right after losing a loved one..the pain is gutwrenching indeed, no other way to explain it..I pray for your strength, its not easy.., continue to lean on each other, your wonderful family and friends during this time. Lots of love and light coming your way. Your sweet Pablo is whole and healthy now. He will always be with you on every bike ride, connect bike or not. A Father/ Son bond is forever, on Earth or in Heaven. We will all be reunited again one day, picking up where we left off, riding connect bikes, playing with toy guns and wrestling. I know I am counting the day till I see my boy again... xo

Ryan's Daddy
Ryan age 4, lost battle to the Beast aka Wilm's Tumor 4-20-09

Anonymous said...

We are all crying and hurting, but most importantly, our little Pablo is breathing easy now.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Jeff. You guys are very brave people. I haven't stopped balling since Thursday. I am with Angela in Arizona on a volleyball tournament. She also is very devestaded as well as Matt and Hrach. Angela will play hard for Pablo this week. You and Jo Ann stay strong for each other. We have a new ANGEL up there watching over us now. I see his smile as I write this. He was just sooo cute.
xoxo Nevrik

Brandon Fuller said...

I'm normally not very emotional and often times I neglect to express myself, or let myself be affected in such a raw fashion, it is truly a gift and a form of therapy both for you to write so freely and for all of us to be lucky enough to read it.

I've heard about the Foundation in/around Los Angeles for the past few months now and I only wish I had paid attention to it prior to 4 days ago. It wasn't until dozens of my friends were posting messages about the blog, Pablo, and your little boy's struggles that I looked into it further.

I have since spent hours upon hours reading through the blog, looking through photo albums, and becoming totally enamored with his life. My heart is with you and your family in this time of grieving and wish you all the best in the future. I'm 24 years old and this is the first time in my life I've actually cried by reading a blog, I've shared it with more people than I can count and will continue to do so as it is both touching and also an inspiration for anyone who is going through such a tough time that there is a way to deal with the excess emotions and do so in a very productive and timeless manner. Thank you.

Nancy said...

I hugged my 7 year old grandson harder than usual last night. What a wonderful thing to share with all of us who grew to love Pablo through your blog, his final moments. Pablo was blessed with his family and you of course, with him. This morning I envision Pablo in his pirate clothes, having breakfast with God.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, my thoughts and tears are with you. I will never get over the unbelievable grace you and your family have shown through this and even with this latest post, I'm totally awe struck.

Anonymous said...

i love you guys so much... no wonder pablo picked you to be his family!! no one else could do it better.
all of my love.


Alana said...

Pablo has reached the ultimate finish line... our ultimate goal when we are Believers in Christ. You will see him again and that's a promise you can stand on as a Believer.
Don't hold back your tears - God created in us two different types of tears and the tears of grief release a chemical in your body to help you with your healing - so let them flow and allow them to do what He created them to do.
Everyone touched by this precious child is in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon Pablo's blog last summer, and prayed like hell that I would never read what you posted yesterday. Thank you for sharing your family's journey of laughter, love,joy and sadness. My prayers for all of you continue.

Charlotte said...

The Foleys will all bike in honor of Pablo.

Good Thoughts+Love,

The Foleys

Unknown said...

There is so much good, good love in your beautiful family, all of your paths ( and including sweet Pablos ) will be lit by an even stronger and more clear light.
And it truly is, shining bright for the world to see. We send you love and light back !

jules h said...

im so so sorry. i have been following pablo's inspiring life; that inspiration will live on. you are such a strong family. i just know pablo's energy will always be with you all. thank you for sharing pablo's joy of life and your love for him. sending comfort and love.

ny, ny

Samantha said...

Your sweet Pablo has made his mark in this world in such a small amount of time... and it will never be the same. His presence will forever be missed. Your family has been in my thoughts and my prayers constantly... Sending love your way from OC.

Melissa in Nevada City, CA said...

My 5 1/2 year old Aiden asked me why I was so sad and crying as I was reading your incredible, touching, intimate and honest reflections. . . I told him that Pablo (who he knew about) had died yesterday and was going back to Mother Earth, where he came from. Aiden's response: "Then a tree will grow. . ." And later, "And Mommy, the fairies will be with him. . ." How do they know so much?

Love and comfort.

Anonymous said...

Jeff - Thank you for authentically, lovingly and beautifully sharing your journey with all of us. It connects us all. Huge hugs to you all - give Grady a good squeeze for me. We love you, Carolyn, Jasper and Rosie.

Chad said...

I pray that your beautiful memories of Pablo will always stay fresh in your minds and that they will forever be a source of comfort and happiness to you all. He will always be your boy and you will always be a family. Stay strong, and remember your boy and your family are loved.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jeff, Jo Ann & Grady,
Your strength and love for your family and especially little Pablo will echo forever with all who have followed you through this. Thank you for sharing as we all learn life is not fair, loved ones are taken from us for no good reason and that we need to cherish every moment we have. There aare tragedies and this is one. It will get easier as you move through this but I can't think of anyone that ever gets over it. Walk one foot in front of the other along your path built by Pablo and his love for his family. If he could of changed it, he would have. Glad you were able to spend the time and help him transcend.....many don't get that opportunity nor take advantage of the experience. He needed you and luckily you were able to be there to help him along. The fear and unknown is gone and it pleases me that you are not holding back on emotions. You will heal, but never completely especially losing such a young, brilliant child as him. Live your life in his honor, he's around and will see it. Cindi

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. We have never met, but Pablo and your family have perhaps touched my heart in a more profound way than some of my close friends ever will.
You are such a beautiful example of love, courage, kindness and dignity. Beautifully human.
I will be a better Dad and a better man today because of your shining example.
Love and light.

Elana said...

Thank you Jeff,

For your beautiful words and for sharing the grace of Pablo with all of us.

With love and many, many tears,

Allen Keller said...

I really appreciate your approach to Pablo and his passing, Jeff and family. Before I was even born, I lost a three-year-old sister to pneumonia. I never heard a word about Suzie until I found a picture of her in my parent's closet when I was ten and asked who she was. It had been nearly twenty years since she died and my parents still couldn't talk about it. I don't think they really did until 30 years or more had passed. Needless to say, this was not healthy for us, them, their relationship, and most of all, to Suzie's memory. Pablo is alive in all of you, and he will continue survive, as hopefully we all will, in the people we loved, affected, and created. Lois, myself, and the rest of the Kellers are honored to have been part of your lives through Jeff's writing. Good luck in days ahead. The loss of Pablo isn't nearly as powerful as the fact that he lived.

The Kellers
Studio City, CA via Milwaukee

Anonymous said...

Your family is so brave and loving to share this little boys life with world.We will never meet, but as a mother to two i don't think i could ever be as strong as you are.Pablo is were he belongs (with god) and he will always watch over you with love and light.

Anonymous said...

My name is Mia and I knew JoAnn a long time ago. I am so sorry you lost your precious Pablo. There is no hurt like the hurt of losing a child. I lost my son Rocket in November 2008 to a genetic disorder. He was 2yrs 3 months old. I still miss him like the first day he died. I hope that you can navigate this grief journey better than I am. It is so very hard. I will light a candle for Pablo tonight when I light one for Rocket.
Mia Ross

Anonymous said...

I read your blog about an hour ago...and I had to go outside in the garden to pray//I am now back after an hour of prayer and meditation. Your beautiful son is now and will be with you and your family...he will guide you during your darkest moments, he will laugh along with you during your happiest times and during those times of quiet contemplation he will sit with you and wrap his spirit around you. You do not know me...but I am sending you thoughts of comfort. You are amazing people and I know your son is proud of all of you! With much love...a.e.e.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this Jeff.

Love to all, Jenefer

Jen said...


Tears. So many tears. There is a song by Patty Griffin "Rain" - this feeling I have while reading your words reminds me of that song. I listened to it over and over while my Mom battled her disease and after she died. I would sit in my bedroom in February in NYC - watching the snow fall.

Love to you Jen Rhodes

Dawn: said...

Jeff, thank you so much for these posts and for continuing to share this time with us. I'm unable to express how great an inspiration and an example your family is to me. I never stopped crying yesterday but I laughed a lot too when I thought about Pablo's amazing adventures. I'm humbled by the choice you and Jo Ann and Grady made to dwell in the hope of each moment and I know that the grace in the moments to come will continue to sustain you.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your joy, your pain and your journey. It's an inspiration and a heartbreak, and I'm trying to hold back the tears for your loss while I type this at work.

Sending you and your family my love, and hoping that Pablo's light will continue to guide you forward through your grief.

Anonymous said...


I am so, so sorry. I shared Pablo's story with my wife and we were are so, so taken with this little boy and his story. Thank you for the courage to alert everyone and to share the amazing love and support you all had for Pablo. I am truly, truly sorry you all have to go through this. My words feel empty just writing that. I feel like I am saying nothing at all compared to your loss. But my wife and I will say a prayer for all of you. That's all we can do.

maarja said...

My heart goes out to your entire family. I read your blog and couldn't help crying because it is all so sad and at the same time so beautiful.

I can only try to imagine how you must feel now. I lost a very dear friend to cancer a bit less than a year ago, his journey was totally different than Pablo's. You see, tomorrow is my birthday, a day I should really be looking forward to. But I'm not because that's the day my friend went to the hospital a year ago and never came back home, 16 days later he was dead. That's the tragic story of how short our lives can be. He was 22 when he died so he had a little more time with us in this life than Pablo did but that doesn't take the pain away.

Your entire family is truly amazing and inspiring and even though right now it must hurt like hell, all we can hope for is that in the years passing, the pain goes away and the memories will live on.

All the best to your family and may God be with you!

Estonia (Europe)

Anonymous said...

I have no words, I found this beautiful blog through a page in another site, and I read most of the posts. It really touched my heart to read your amazing journey.
I'm grateful to all of you for sharing your journey and opening your heart to us through this page.
I only can say that I admire your courage, strength and infinite love for your little treasure named Pablo. I'm sure that he's in heaven now taking care of you as you did when he went through this challenge.
Our prayers are with you and your family.
Peace and Love