Friday, July 31, 2009

Freakin In Firenze

Here's the view from our hotel above Florence a/k/a Firenze. I'll let the picture speak for itself. All I can say is we're freakin in Firenze. We headed straight for that pool. Jo Ann and Grady played Marco Polo for the second day running. Yesterday it was in the Adriatic Sea, where Sr. Polo himself surely once swam. I'm learning the concepts of that game. Never saw it played until yesterday. I studied their tactics while downing a doppio espresso and eating biscotti on the poolside grass. Something about being served an espresso in the late afternoon seems—searching for the right word—civilized to me.

The villa that the hotel is housed in is from the fourteenth century, predating the Medici era. The tower on the property is from the thirteenth century. And it looks like it too. Grady and I did the math. This joint is going on a thousand years old. Kind of redefines 'old school' for us. Hard to describe the place. The first thing that comes to mind is a bunch of 15th century scholars kickin it in the giant main dining room with a bunch of feudal lords. There are frescoes and swords and shields all over the place. Will post more pics later. Pablo would be molto felice here: the lock on our room takes a skeleton key. A really heavy one, too. Just the kind he loved. Just the kind that we placed in his coffin.

The Apennine Mountains ride up all around us. Looking at these lush, romantic mountains—as opposed to the rugged, sunburned monsters above Los Angeles—makes me miss my biciclette! Look at those things! This region, this country is cradle of cycling. For now, I will have to stare at them in appreciation. We are on a family trip, nothing to do with climbing mountains on two wheels.

For dinner this evening, we'll walk to the trattoria at the bottom of the hill. I'm hoping everyone will be happy to walk back up. I counted the switchbacks when the taxi drove us up here. There are six. If I can't hammer those babies on a bike, I'll take something even better: a romantic post-gastro walk with my wife and son.

Addio Venezia, Ciao Firenze

When we arrived at our hotel on Lido, Jo Ann spotted a bunch of butterflies. She stopped on the garden path that led us to our room, and three or four (or more) beautiful butterflies flitted around her. Grady and I found her in this happy state, in the gorgeous Lido sunshine, with her butterflies. I can still remember the smile on her face. Beautiful.

As we are leaving Lido, en route to catch another acqua bus at San Marco Square on Venice, I'm already missing this cluster of beautiful island towns. As we are leaving, it's clear to me that the past three days have given us a special kind of healing. There are no cars on Venice. We walked everywhere, hardly looking at the map. We asked for directions from locals and from vendors. We remembered this turn and that straight, based on the oddest landmarks: a Shepard Fairey-designed Obey sticker on an electrical conduit; an all plastic electrical junction box that fascinated me; a piece of jewelry that Jo Ann noticed in a shop window while whisking by the prior day. These things are so simple, there for anyone to see, for all kinds of reasons, and for us, they were guides in an ancient city with healing powers we couldn't have known until we got here.

Three days of feeling our way through a city - a place where every eyeball, every minuto of the day is stunningly, preposterously breathtaking - was a safe way to enter the body of our trip. Paris was an add-on, just to see the Tour de France finish and to eat a few great meals. It's an intense city, a bit rough for our mission. Italy was always meant to be the healing part. And so far, it has been.

On Venice, there are no cars, no taxis, no getting lost. It's impossible to get lost, at least for more than a few minutes. Getting lost - temporarily - is part of the fun of being here. Sure beats the lost feeling inside us since May 17 2008, and the Vesuvius-like volcano mental wonder and emotional wander it erupted on June 28 2009. We aren't sure how temporary our lostness is. We're still in it.

On Venice, we've also been able to work on our cooperation skills. Sometimes in a loud argumentative way, but mostly in a quiet loving way. We've been operating on feel. And that's been very, very appropriate for three people whose wings are singed and whose hearts are full of melancholy and sadness infinito.

In many ways, our time in Venice has mirrored the path of Pablo's 13 months of treatment: no map for guidance (a theme in our lives now); getting a little lost and finding our way; biting at each other and making amends; waking up, making mistakes, and making up. Starting over - another involuntary theme in our lives. The RESET button gets good use in our familia. This softer, gentler way of re-entering life is captivating to me in itself. I'm trying to appreciate it in the background - even the raw parts - as we are living life in the foreground.

Do we wish more than any other wish that Pablo was beside us, running down dark alleyways, dripping gelato all over himself? OF COURSE! But Pablo has died. He can't be with us. Not physically. We know he is w i t h us. We feel his energy everywhere. And we are certainly here bec a u s e of Pablo. We are here, away from our home, in part as an attempt to develop a comprehension of what our lives mean on an increasing number of mornings when we do not hear Pablo's footsteps in the hall. And then discarding that comprehension - the mind and its thoughts are of no use - to make way for the corso secondi: our emotions about and because of it all.

So, yes, we wish we wish we wish.

The thing we can get our hands round is our own behavior, with one another, with our selves - not ourselves, but our selves - and with nature. We are grateful for all the nature stories and photos we've been getting from friends and family - they've made us cry and smile. Crying is cleansing for the spirit. Smiling is drying the tears + wringing out the towel.

We have talked a lot about Pablo. Yesterday, Grady got us started on a stream of hilarious Pablo stories as we wound our way around the narrow 'tween building footpaths. One theme was how Pablo loved to rat us out - all of us, to one another. He'd narc me out to Jo Ann, Grady to me, Polly to Grady and so on. I never minded it at the time. Grady did, cos most of the time Pablo was ratting him out for real. No matter what, these are sweet, happy memories for us as we walk our way through the fifth week of Pablo being a spiritual presence in our lives.

I'm writing this on the numero uno water bus. It's overcast this morning, and the Grand Canal is filled with a heavy stream of black gondolas poking their way over the water, the usual freight and construction traffic, and rush hour water buses like ours. It's just like rush hour in Times Square except a lot quieter. No horns, no burning pavement, no one getting run over by an under insured cab. This is lovely. A city that truly delivers what the brochures sell to the world.

For us, the brochures were of no use. They don't have a picture of our little Scrapper Pablo. We came here for a custom trip - to start healing in the Italian sun.

We're fully engaged. Ready for the next stop: Florence.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Più Fotografie Venezia

More Venice photographs!

We forgot a b u n c h of cool shots from our day in Venice.... Today will be our first day in a week where we do nothing. Our entire itinerary involves walking across the street from the hotel and sitting in our cabana on the beach and swimming in the Adriatic Sea. Joanna booked this cabana for us, and it was a very, very wise and sweet thing to do. We NEED a day that doesn't involve planes, trains or automobiles—or shoes for that matter—and today is that day.

Here's the pix from yesterday:

Jo Ann walking in the front door at Peggy Guggenheim's casa. 20 feet to the left side of this pic is the Grand Canal.

A piece from the Robert Rauschenberg 'Gluts' show

Grady's fave painting of the day—or possibly ever—from Peggy's Futurists collection.

My fave of the day—and possibly ever—'Il ciclista' by Mario Sironi. This painting was done in 1916—way before freeways and car-congested city centers.

Grady placing a note on the Yoko Ono 'Wish Tree' in the museum garden.

We've passed this statue a bunch of times. It caught our eye every time. Pablo called himself the boy lion. And this lion has wings. You know what we're sayin, right?

Grady loves the Kanye glasses on the Italian Coke can. Click here to see Pablo in his Pabye glasses on Larchmont Boulevard.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Day In Venice

We had a wonderful day in Venice. Great food. Great espresso with great crema. Great gelato. And we didn't get in a car all day. Our transport was bikes and water taxis and our feet.

Here's a sample of what we did today:

We went into this chiesa...
...with this view....
...and lit a candle in honor of our dear boy Pablo....
...prayed in front of this altar. Grady spoke to Pablo in his prayer. I spoke to the God of my understanding who looked a lot like the bearded dude in the movies, since we were in his Catholic house and all.

After all that, we jumped into a gondola, and got a 'side street' tour of the real Venice. We really enjoyed getting away from the tourist melee and seeing the real deal.

Grady skulked around all day, snapping pics of the amazing street art that's on virtually every wall in Venice. Some of it is part of the Venice Biennale This is an entire wall of Shepard Fairey work.

Morning On Lido

At breakfast at Albergo Quattro Fontane with Pablo's former nanny Mira

Me riding hotel bike on Lido

Grady riding on beachfront road on Lido

Pablove In Dublin

Our friend Jason Free is one of U2's video wizards. He's worked with them on a bunch of projects—their iPod commercial, their 3D movie, and now their current tour, which is in-the-round, with a giant crown of a video screen. Of all the projects Jason has done with U2, our fave was done a couple nights ago. It was U2's final night at Croke Park in Dublin—the third of a three night residency. There's a section of the video show dedicated to the ONE campaign. During that part of the show, Jason popped a special guest up on the video crown: Pablo!

That is one of our favorite pictures of Pablo. If you don't recall, Jo Ann took this photo of Pablo while they were riding in Michael Ross' golf cart in Palm Springs. I believe they were going to the Ace Hotel. We love this photo because the pure joy radiating from Pablo's face is s o P a b l o. We love it cos the love radiating from Pablo's face is s o P a b l o. We loved it when Pablo was sitting next to us looking at the pic with us. We love it even more now, as it reminds us of, well, Pablo. That photo is EXACTLY the way Pablo looked. And he looked this way most of the time.
The perfect image to beam above 20,000 people in Dublin, Ireland. He was free.

Pablo will always be f r e e.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Abbiamo Appeso Con Pablo In Chiesa

We hung with Pablo in church. That's what the post title says, and it's what we did in our first 30 minutes in Venice this afternoon. We didn't even know the name of the chiesa. Still don't. But look at it—the place is O.G.—that place has a direct link to God.

We lit a candle for Pablo. The three of us knelt at the prayer station on the hard, unpadded wood, and prayed. We didn't talk about what we prayed for, or if we just prayed to Pablo. I prayed for Pablo, to Pablo, and for our family's harmony and healing. I prayed for Pablo's happiness and clarity. Maybe I was praying, really, for the happiness and clarity of the three of us. The church and our experience in it had a feeling. It's still with me. It's a clear, clean feeling.

Last night was a rough night of sleep for me. Then I dragged Jo Ann into it, and asked her to comfort me. She did. And ended up not going back to sleep. The flight from Paris to Venice was easy, but the combo of a bad night's sleep and a travel day has left us wiped out. We'll post plenty more pix tomorrow.

Buona notte!

Paris Pix

Grady at l'Arc de Triomphe. We are sure he'll love this pic for years to come. For sure, we will. Jo Ann LOVES this portrait of Grady. G r e a t shot of a great boy, Mommy!

Last time I was in Paris, it was on my bike. Rode here from London (yes, we ferried over the Channel.) My friends and I came in via Versailles, riding into the city through the old skool carriage road that cuts through the woods into the city center. We stopped traffic around the Arc, and rode the entire circle. A great memory. Must have told Pablo that story a hundred times while showing him pics of this imposing monument.

Lunch at Le Train Bleu. I can always tell Grady was behind the camera based on our facial expressions LOL. My sunglasses were needed at that hour yesterday. Eyes were closing involuntarily.

Mommy and son at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Us, In Paris, Missing Pablo

Grady, Jo Ann and I at dinner tonight—Georges, atop the Pompidou Musee.

We all miss Pablo. Even when we're excited about seeing a fave Pablo Picasso painting in person for the first time. Jo Ann wept at the sight of some Picasso pieces in the National Picasso Musee—one or two that specifically reminded her of our Pablo, whom we miss like hell. Even when we're navigating our way through a series of out-of-the-way Paris side streets—amazed that we're actually making our way, just as we are amazed that we made our way through the soul-shredding episode of Pablo's treatment. Even when we are—and this is the hardest part—laughing or relaxing into happiness. ('How can I be happy?' I always think to myself.)

At dinner this evening, we began our feelings check-in. We made a commitment at the start of this trip to take time out twice a day to stop and come together. Racing through a city eating and shopping and sightseeing while aching from the heart does not constitute real communication about what's going on inside. What's going on inside all of us is the same thing, and sharing our feelings, memories, observations about ourselves and one another with one another is helpful. So, as we picked at our entrees at Georges, the restaurant atop Du Centre Pompidou, the famous Paris modern art museum, the discussion began.

Each of us had observed another in a Pablo trance. Grady saw me looking at a boy about Pablo's age last night at dinner. A cutely-attired Pablo-sized mannequin in the front window of a clothing shop caught Grady's eye, and mine, and we both saw one another seeing it. On Rue de Rivoli today Jo Ann slowed and stopped at the window of a bookseller. Inside was a big display of Le Petit Prince books. I saw her looking at it and didn't say anything. I could say anything at any time to Jo Ann. But she stepped away from the window without acknowledging what she saw, and the moment slipped away. For the first ever time, I didn't know what to say to my wife. So I let the moment continue to slip away, knowing we'd talk about it later. Sometime.

Grady is very clear when he talks about Pablo. He says he thinks about him constantly. He's either thinking about him every second, or every minute. Tonight, he told Jo Ann and I that when we're off doing something on our own, he feels lonely. At those moments, he realizes that for the past six years he's always played with Pablo while his parents have been in the other room talking or working or reading or whatever. And now it's just him. He told us those moments are saddening for him. It brings his grief into full bore.

We all talked about guilt. Mostly about times we put Pablo off to do something else—like finishing a task for a few minutes, making Pablo wait to play a game he was eager to play with us. Before the conversation got too deep, Jo Ann pulled back. I said that no matter what, in any situation, with any two people, there will be scenarios that can cause guilt. And there's no positive end to it—and certainly to usefulness to it.

Jo Ann and Grady are sleeping as I write this, so I can't get their input on what I'm about to say. Surely, their list of specific things they miss about Pablo would be as long as mine. Surely I will write these things when they tell me.

I miss Pablo's hands—he was always holding my hand, always wanting to put his fingers between mine. We called that 'fingers in.'

I miss putting on Pablo's shoes. He'd sit on the top stair in our front hallway. He'd pick out his shoes—he always knew which pair he wanted to wear—and he'd usually throw a few steps below me. He'd always laugh. I sometimes laughed with him, and sometimes got frustrated.

I miss snuggling with Pablo at night. We had a going-to-bed ritual: he'd pick out a book (for him, it meant five), jump in bed, curl up into me, kiss me goodnight, then I'd read to him. My logic with the kiss before the story was: if he fell asleep during the story, I wouldn't miss kissing my son goodnight. I truly loved every minute of the tuck-ins. And many nights, it would take 45 minutes or an hour.

I miss our patois. Our rhyming and linguistic scheming. Every day I think of things we used to say to one another. Our own little language. Things I can't use with other people. People who aren't Pablo. 'Hungry like a mungry' is one of them. See? What would you say if I said to you, 'Dude, I'm hungry like a mungry!' Pablo knew. He'd say something like, 'Me like a la shoo!' This is one of the rawest pieces for me, the place I miss him so so so deeply. I think it's cos I was not an adult or a parent when we were in this place. I was a kid. I was with Pablo, where he was.

I miss being a Papa. I loved being Pablo's Papa. I was just getting good at it. Pablo and I had this special bond ripped from the flesh of our palms. Lots of words and sentiments in the neighborhood of anguish, anger and angst rise up when I center my intellect and my emotional self on this particular volcano of hurt.

Walking around Paris in July, everywhere, there are parents and kids. Outwardly, I don't relate to people who are Dutch, German, Polish, Turkish. They speak a different language. They are often red in the face from the sun in a lower latitude. Inwardly, I relate a hundred percent to the Norwegian dad and his kids. To the Belgian dude and his daughter. To the older gentleman from Holland and his two grown sons sitting in a cafe after the Tour de France finish. And even deeper, in that place we call the soul, I want to disintegrate. I want to dis-integrate. Fascinating to pull that word apart. And it's exactly how I felt seeing my Dutch cafe mate yesterday. Why? Because he was in his 60s, sitting with his two sons in their 30s. And I will never have that with Pablo and Grady. I can only have that with Grady. Pablo will be with us, but not in the flesh.That tears at the ties that bind me to humanity, to life, to wanting...anything.

I can only tell the story as it is actually happening. And this is how it is for me, for us, today.

Speaking of today, it's time for me to end 27 July 2009. Time for me to admit that the day is over, and I need rest. Tomorrow at noon we leave France and fly to Venice. We'll be in Italy for nearly two weeks. Can't wait.

Help Polly Help You

We have never utilized the Pablog for anything other than telling Pablo's story and our experience as we've lived his story with - and now without - our dear little boy.
We've decided to break that rule. Just once. And for the only good reason we could ever imagine: to help Polly.

Now that Pablo is gone, Polly is not only grieving and shattered, like us. But unlike us, Polly is also out of a job. She is starting grad school at Pepperdine in the fall - pursuing her Pablo-inspired path of child psychology - and is looking to continue working with children on a less-than-full time basis. I guess you'd say regular babysitting charges will be her focus rather than full time nannywerk.

In case you haven't picked up on this, Jo Ann and I highly recommend Polly. She changed the course of our family, and certainly contributed greatly to Pablo's life. But if you're reading the Pablog, you already know that!

If you'd like to get in touch with Polly, please send a DIRECT COMMENT on the blog. These comments go directly to Jo Ann's email and she will forward to Polly.

Thank you!

Pablove In New Orleans

I guess you can tell from the pic above that Pablo made the paper. This morning, the New Orleans daily The Times-Picayune is running a story on Pablo on the front page of its Living section. And it's not just a random story written on a hometown girl who lost her son. The piece is written knowingly by a fellow Wilms' Tumor mom, Pam Radtke Russell. She and Jo Ann met through mutual friends—Anne and Neal Morris—whose children were in school with Pam's daughter Caitlin when she was going through treatment. (Those of you who attended Pablo's memorial will remember Neal as the man who was as gripping and as funny as David Sedaris.) So Pam wrote this piece as not only a professional, but as the mother of a cancer kid—Caitlin is in remission—who knows exactly what Jo Ann, her email friend, went through, because she went through it herself. A rare scenario. And we hope it gets rarer.

It was cool to this piece while laying in bed in Paris this morning. It's a wonderful tribute to Pablo, and another giant ray of Pablove light out in the world. Thank you, Pam, for honoring Pablo. He'd be happy—and probably a bit taken aback!—to see his portait flying on the front page.

We are breakfast-bound. Talk to ya later.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Us, In Paris

Allison Wright from Livestrong snapped this street shot of us shortly before the final lap of the 2009 Tour de France. We'll never forget this day.

After a waiting for the peloton in the sun for hours, we got a major payoff: a head-on view 10 feet from the riders, on the final turn of Place de la Concorde. The best viewing spot in France. We watched five laps from the street. We could feel the buzz and thrum in our bodies as the riders hammered over the cobblestone road. It was wonderful. And we are so grateful to have come here.

On the topic of us being here and gratitude, we want to thank Joanna Sims, Tony Hoffer's wife, for planning this trip for us. She offered, and we accepted—something we've learned to do quite well over the past 14 months. Joanna put three weeks into masterminding every step of this trip so that we could simply step on the plane and enjoy ourselves. That's exactly what we needed, and it's exactly how it's been so far. Our hotel is four steps off of Rue de Rivoli, and a block from the Champs-Elysees. Stunningly easy for us to get around to all the right spots.

Acacia Newlon and Kat Sambor at Dangerbird also put a lot of effort into this trip, helping us expedite our passport renewals (I travel a lot internationally, but hadn't flown international since before Pablo's treatment started), phones and logistics of all kinds. We are thankful to be on the receiving end of this kind of love and dedication. It has made a huge difference in our lives.

I keep thinking: as we are held safely and securely in the arms of our families and our community, we now have the ultimate blueprint for how to be of service to others.

That's a good feeling to have.

Pablo's Bell At The Tour de France

The Tour de France peloton is nearing Paris. If you don't follow cycling, Lance Armstrong will step up onto the podium in a couple hours and take the third place crown. Incredible for a man who is 37 and was out of bike racing for nearly four years. He rode an incredible race - especially yesterday on the vicious climb to Mount Ventoux. All of Lance's rivals tried to put him out of business, and none of them succeeded. He responded to every surge and attack, nullifying the efforts of dudes 10 or more years his junior.

We are on the giant, ancient balcony of the Automobile Club of France, a deeply swank men's club that is staffed by waiters in black tuxedos. The balcony looks out over the Place de la Condorde, a spot that allows us two views of the riders on each of their eight laps through central Paris. In our field of vision is the Eiffel Tower (we went to the top this morning) and eight other major monuments I can't name off the top of my head. Jo Ann and Grady are hangin in the shade, so I can't ask her for the facts. All I know is, most of them are well over a century old, and most are multiples of that.

We packed Pablo's Tour of California cowbell. You might recognize this from the photo where he's on my shoulders, leaning on my head, waiting for the peloton to come over Angeles Crest into the Rose Bowl basin. You know, this one:

The cowbell you see today's pic, with Paris landmarks in the distance, is the one you see in Pablo's hand in photo above. He looks about as happy as Grady does now, waiting for the peloton in the most famous cycling race in the world. Pablo lost his mind when the riders flew by us on the ToC finish line. I know Grady will lose his today—once the riders hit the Champs-Elysees circuit.

We miss Pablo like hell. It hurts. It burns. It stands us up like stiffly starched shirts at some French dry cleaner. The other thing is does is make us appreciate every moment we've got on this trip.

I'll tell you what else we're gonna appreciate: ringing the f*** outta this cowbell and bringing Pablo's spirit into this sacred Parisian tradition.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good Morning From Paris

You wake up in Paris and look at the picture of your son playing drums at his friend Miles' house when he was our. You realize you are in Paris, your wife is sitting on the bed next to you, your older son is in the shower. And the photo you have is your only non-computerized visual reminder of the little boy who, on any given day during his six years and six days on this earth, would have filled this room with his volcano of energy and joy.

We are on this trip for many reasons. one of them is to find Pablo in the world. Not the physical Pablo—his work on this earth was complete on june 27 2009. We are looking for Pablo in us, in the beauty of the world, in the experience of getting away, in the fear of leaving home and wondering why we got to go on and he had to leave. We are looking for Pablo and we will find him. We already have, in many ways.

I am sure I dreamt of Pablo last night. I am sure he spoke to me. I am sure I can't recall any of it. Just a hazy memory. I'll keep dreaming and keep trying to remember. It will happen.

But not right now. It's 6 a.m. We've been up since before 5. Feels good. Now we're off to find a cafe that's open. Need espresso. Shouldn't be hard. We are in the middle of the middle of Paris on Rue de Rivoli, a block from Place de la Concorde, which is at the eastern end of the final stretch of road of the Tour de France—Champs-Elysees.

There must be caffeine within five meters of this bed. Time to find it.

Four Weeks Without Pablo

Jo Ann and Grady and I are traveling at around 200 m.p.h. We're on the Eurostar, almost in Paris. We are knee deep in our trip. What do I call this trip? Summer vacation? Crying on the Continent? Grieving in Genova? Doesn't matter. It could end up being all of those things, and maybe none. We're certainly here to honor ourselves and honor our son and little brother's memory by pursuing joy. And that's the plan we're sticking to.

I chose the above photo for my weekly Saturday remembrance of Pablo for two reasons: 1. as you can see, he is outside the train station in San Diego—fitting since the rest of us are on a train as I write this; 2. the SD to LA train ride was on May 28, almost exactly two months ago and almost exactly one month before Pablo left. I look for symmetry in life and in the world. You know that. It makes me feel sane, calm, comfortable. The loose relationship between these twentysomething dates in May, June and today, in July, is not lost on me. The theme could be a lot of things. The main one that comes to mind is an appreciation for life. Looking at the photos of Pablo's final 60 days in his physical body, he had innumerable experiences, immeasurable amounts of fun. Seeing the look on his face in this photo says so much to me. Pablo was h a p p y stabbing his Lego sword into my face as I snapped his pic. He wasn't afraid to show his happiness, or his need for joy.

I'm gonna do my best to do the same while the other three-quarters of Pablo's family walk among the projected two million spectators at tomorrow's Tour de France finish. When I start to feel agitated or gnarly—and I will—I can look at this pic of Pablo and remember that it's so much easier + so much less messy to just have fun.

Our train is pulling into Terminus Nord. Time to stop traveling and start enjoyin + relaxin in the City of Lights.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pablove In The Kauai Sand

Pablo's friend Cassiel is on holiday in Hawaii. His mom Tracy just sent us the below email with the above pic.

Something about the Blum family being all the way over there, and the three of us going all the way round the globe in the other direction, just hit me. That something is the way people's love for Pablo and people's processing of the loss of Pablo - particularly k i d s - is being expressed and passed on for all to see, in words and photographs. That something is also, simply put, people's love for themselves and those around them. Pablo's greatest gift to all of us - we keep hearing this from everyone - is to slow down and appreciate what's right in front of us. A moment. A flower. A courteous gesture from another person. A misstep you just made and the apology that followed. That kind of thing.

Here's Tracy's email - no better words than hers to explain the photo:

Aloha from Pablo's biggest fans in Kauai! We were sitting on the beach writing our names in the sand and Cassiel looked up and thought that Pablo would be able to see his name if we wrote it in the here it is...and there he was...:)

Butterflies On The Champs Elysees

Damien Hirst has painted the bike Lance will ride in the final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday. As you can see, this bike has a hugely powerful symbolic connection to our Pablo journey: it's covered in butterflies. This is the bike Lance will be riding when we watch the race do its laps around the Champs Elysees on Sunday. We'll be watching from the best place in Paris: the Livestrong balcony at the Place de la Concorde. Hirst's art bike is part of Lance Armstrong's Stages campaign, where his favorite artists paint the bikes he rides in various races and stages of races. Our friends Shepard Fairey, Mark Ryden and Kenny Scharf all painted bikes used earlier in the season. Kind of crazy how small the world is. Kind of crazy the places we find butterflies and other reminders of Pablo. We see these things because we are looking.

¶ We're almost ready to leave town. Last minute laundry and packing and, of course, the final run to Dangerbird HQ to drop stuff and grab some papers. Grady just returned home from school. Today was his final day of summer school. We're all happy that's over. At 1 p.m., we will drive to Forest Lawn to visit Pablo's grave one final time before embarking on our three week trip.

I can tell you we are ready to leave town. There's no way we are ready. There's no way this isn't going to hurt. I can assure you of one thing, and one thing only: we will remain conscious of our mission, as individuals and as a family. Our mission is just that: to remain in conscious contact with ourselves, with one another, with Pablo. We will look for Pablo out there in the world. And we will see him. Because we're looking. We will find joy. Because we're looking. We will find wonder. Because we're looking. We will encounter pain + sadness. Not because we are looking, but because we are floating down a river filled with those two emotions. They aren't bad. They just exist.

We will encounter the emptiness—le vide while in Paris, il vuoto while in Italy—of course we will. We're used to having Pablo—our physical little boy—right there with us. In the plane. On the train. Needing us. Wanting us. And wanting toys and games and food. And we are used to feeling the love and fun and excitement that emanated from our little Pablo. We still feel all of those things. But without le petit dude physically holding our hands, the excitement has turned to a longing ache—a wanting, a desire, a memory so vivid + active it hurts.

So, of course we'll feel the emptiness, within and without. Experiencing it consciously will be part of our journey.

We'll blow up the Pablove Twitter frequently during our trip. We'll post plenty of pics and updates here on the Pablog. Please hang with us. We'll take you along on this part of the journey.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another First: Packing For Our First Trip Without Pablo

Francine took this picture in out front yard the afternoon of Sunday June 21. It was Pablo's birthday. We'd just wrapped up his small birthday party at Silverlake Park, which is at the bottom of our hill, about five houses away. Even though the party was a handful of Pablo's friends and very close friends of ours (having the usual hugemungous bday shindig was too daunting for us), there were tons of gifts to open.

One of the gifts Pablo loved was the Police uniform that the Dangerbird staff bought for him. That's what he's wearing in this pic. Pablo was so proud of his teeth. He was so happy to have lost four teeth and to have bagged to $5-a-pop loot from the Tooth Fairy. Pablo was so happy to rub his tongue up against the new top teeth that were coming in. Jo Ann, Grady and I—everyone in our circle of close friends—were so happy about his new teeth coming in. To say 'were coming in'—I am still not used to that. I do not want to be used to that. I do not want to get used to that.

This photo was on the front cover of the funeral program. Many people have told us they have the programs from memorial and the funeral hung up in special places in their houses—on the bedside table, on the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror—so that Pablo's memory and all he means to them and their families is not ever dimmed with the passage of days and weeks and, eventually, months and years. This morning, I saw this photo pop up in my IN box. A friend of Jo Ann's is a columnist for the New Orleans daily paper, the Times-Picayune. She's written a column on Pablo and needed photos. Sending pics—the actual assembling of the email and writing of captions—was a highly charged act for Jo Ann. To hear me say it, you might think 'Of course it was emotional for her.' Where we are, sometimes tasks like sending a picture to someone appears to be a simple and safe thing to do. Until you do it. And then the high voltage wire of emotion plants itself in the base of your spine and you light up like the Fourth of July. And then you remember, 'Oh yeah, I have to be more careful. Nothing is normal anymore.'

As our home turns into a packing zone for our three week trip to Paris, four cities in Italy and, for the final week, Peter and Brie's amazing cabin on Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire, we are talking through our feelings. The two main emotional pillars: excitement for getting our first holiday in 14 months on the one hand, and absolute fear + terror about how it will feel to leave our home at 2 p.m. tomorrow without Pablo. For the first time without Pablo. Another first. And this one we see coming. We can't anticipate how we will feel in 25 hours' time. But we can talk about how it feels to embark on a key phase in the process of moving on, letting go. How it feels to feel the wheels of acceptance start to crackle on the gravel beneath us. And how it will feel to put pressure on the accelerator. How it will feel to put a block between us and our house, where we lived with Pablo, where Pablo was born and then lived and then died. Seems so unfair. I want to cry.

I know that if it were I that had passed away 26 days ago, I would know that Jo Ann, Grady and Pablo would be embarking on a trip just like this. I would want them to have fun. To put one foot in front of the other. To bring me along by remembering me, celebrating the fun we had, the life we lived together. And that is precisely what we will do on our trip. We will bring Pablo with us. He's here. No doubt. Pablo is here, as I type, watching me, as he always did when he was here physically, teaching himself to type by watching his Mommy and Papa. And he'll be with us tomorrow on the 5:35 Virgin flight to London, his Papa's favorite for his business trips. The one he always wanted to go on with me....

Today, Pablo is celebrating Uncle Scott's 44th birthday. There is no doubt those dudes are hammering through the best birthday cake ever—right now! Happy birthday Scott!

Pabi Roger

Until Pablo's head stone arrives, and to make Pablo's grave unmistakable, we've added two flags that will confirm you're at the right spot—a Jolly Roger, and a little Pablove flag. I'm gonna name that one the Pabi Roger. He'd love that. Pabi was Pablo's nickname until he was about two.

If you are thinking about coming to see Pablo, and are concerned about the narrow window between the break in LA's gnarly heat and Forest Lawn's 6 p.m. closing time, we have a tip for you. We've found that the cemetery gates do not close promptly at 6. I rolled in here at 6:10 this evening on the bike and cars were still streaming in. Another tip is to bring not only a blanket or something to sit on, but an umbrella to cut the sun's heat. It's so beautiful and peaceful sitting here at Pablo's grave—and le intense soleil this time of year is the only impediment to enjoying the 40 mile eastern view of the San Gabriel Mountain range.

As I'm typing this, a flock of little brown birds—150 or so—flew above Polly and I. Stunning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pabskrit On The Living Room Floor

Pablo's smiley face drawing (below) was hiding in plain sight, right in front of the book shelf in our living room (above).
When Pablo passed away I started breaking a big rule in our house: I brought my bike and all the junk that goes with it into our living room. It was easier to prep in the morning. It was easier to dump myself into the front door after a ride in oppressive LA heat. Unconsciously, maybe I was avoiding the countless Pablo memories in the garage—his toys and his two bikes, the questions he'd ask me in there, the way he used to help me clean my bike. Who knows why I did it. But I broke the rule and the bike was in the house.

Many of you have seen the trail of cicli stuff in front of the book shelf when you've come over.

On Saturday morning, long before anyone else in the house was awake, I was prepping for my ride. I have a big black duffel bag that holds a bunch of my riding gear. I moved it a foot or two from where it was sitting on the floor. As I bent over to grab my shoes out of it, I saw something on the floor. Something red. A drawing. One of Pablo's trademark smiley faces.

I couldn't believe my eyes. The rarity of this find. The first thought in my mind was that this was Pablo's version of sanskrit—Pabskrit. The precious uneven lines of his young, developing hand. The beauty of it. Imagining how Pablo would have snuck over to the book shelf with a juicy red Sharpie when nobody was looking. Imagining the rush of excitement he must have had while he was doing it, fearing he'd be caught in the act.

Thankfully he was not found out. Thankfully we discovered this on Saturday July 18, three weeks after his passing. Thankfully Pablo's floor drawing is a wonderful, joyful, cute + hilarious gift for us to enjoy. Forever.

As I stood there, with the whole house still asleep, I could barely contain myself. I was certain no one had ever seen it. This is the kind of thing anyone around here—even a guest—would scream about at the top of their lungs. I was certain that nobody could possibly forget to mention that they'd discovered a Pablo drawing on the floor. I contemplated waking Jo Ann. I did not. She has a hard enough time sleeping. I took a picture of the drawing—the one you see above. And I told Jo Ann et al about it when I came home from my ride. After I put my bike in the garage.

Today, I say: Thank you, Pablo!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Opening Pitch (video)

Pablove at Dodger Stadium:

Jeff and Pablo in the LIVESTRONG "It's About You" campaign

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday Morning With Pablo

Pablo left these two dolls in my car. I brought them up to visit Pablo at his grave today. The rabbit (forgot his name) lived in my glove box. Pablo used to love jumping in the front seat to open the glove box, check on him, and slam the lid back down. This birthday present-bearing Scooby Doo was one of his back seat companions. Now, these guys are strapped into the passenger seat, next to me when I drive.

Pablo's new home is directly behind the Hollywood sign. Any time you see the sign on TV, in a movie, or driving across LA, remember that Pablo is directly behind it. Rich Holtzman and I rode up there a couple weeks before Pablo passed away. I looked down at the cemetery while we were climbing the steep road. I must have looked right at Pablo's future home on that day, without knowing the significance. If you look closely, you can see the white fence of the road angling up the mountain—just above Scoob's ear.

Sunday was the hardest day for me.

The hurt and the emptiness. The hurt. The emptiness. I negotiate with both. Try to see the light underneath, try to get behind the feeling, to see the hurt as a thing and not an all-encompassing fact. Try to surrender to the big empty, reasoning that struggling with it or attempting to understand it is where the hazy electric shock feeling comes from. Nothing works.

We had a small group of friends over Sunday for a barbecue. I smiled. I spoke. I cried. I made the smallest of small talk. With heaps of help from Jo Ann, Patricia, Julie and Peter, I cooked burgers on the grill. The smoke from the grill burned my eyes. The 95 degree LA air and the heat from the grill made me wonder, more pointedly than usual, why are we here?

In the early evening hours of Sunday, and the early morning hours today, I sat in front of a blank computer screen. I was stumped. I wanted to put words on the screen that would convey the particular color and shape of pain and confusion and sorrow I am in. For the first time since May 17 2008, my fingers did not move. I was scared. Being in this place I'm trying to describe is tough enough. Not having the words to describe it—an attempt to exorcise it—is a deeper level of the same hazy malaise.

The fact is, trying to describe this cocktail of pain and confusion and sorrow I am feeling is difficult. It's like trying to describe the characteristics of air while drowning. I am immersed in it. Seeing out of it is very, very difficult.

So I'm jumping off that train. I won't try to wrestle with the pain and confusion and sorrow in this way. I will just tell you where I am, what's going on in our lives, and what it's like. You know: news, weather and sports.

Here goes:

I wrote this while eating breakfast at 6:45 a.m.: I miss Pablo. We miss Pablo. He is here, with me, in our dining room. The sun is shining over the Silverlake hills. He is here. But his chair is empty.

I wrote this while sitting at Pablo's grave at 9:55 a.m: The spirit that came into our lives came in a physical package. That was the Pablo we saw running and jumping and laughing every day—his body. That was the husky voice that made us laugh and the twinkling eyes that looked back at us while we did it—his physical presence. But the spirit, or soul, or whatever we choose to call it in our respective belief systems—that was Pablo. And that spirit is no way entombed in the casket beneath this grass and flowers. Pablo's spirit is in no way caged in the cement and steel beneath this machine-tamped dirt. Pablo's spirit did not end.

Pablo's spirit lives on in the universe. In the sky. In the wind. In the butterflies. And, so clearly and beautifully, in the hearts of all who love Pablo.

Thinking back to my cathartic moment at the grill yesterday: I'm starting to see very clearly that one of the reasons we are here in life, on this place we call Earth, is to share love with others. To give our love to others. To receive the love of other people when we are fortunate enough to be loved back. To be clear, authentic, without hesitation, without regret. That's just one sliver of why we are here in life. I'll keep searching for more slivers.

I am certain that's what Pablo was up to. He carried love wherever he went. He gave it. He received it. It's easy to understand this when I'm sitting at Pablo's grave, talking to him, feeling the wind on my head and face. Sitting here, it's easy to understand just about everything. I have no choice but to open my entire human existence to one simple notion: that the only way I will ever communicate again with my little boy Pablo is through nature, through understanding. People all over the world agree with this. We've got stacks of sympathy cards and letters and blog comments and emails from friends all over the globe telling us how birds and bees and butterflies and squirrels are coming into their presence in new and unique ways since Pablo's death.

If this were an audiobook, you be hearing the Smiths song 'Ask' right here, cued to the line 'Nature is a language, can't you read?'

Pablo Pitch Pics

Here are a few pics from last night's Dodger game. Will write a full piece on our experience later today when the video is ready to post. Too tired to write at the moment. I will have ingested plenty of caffeine by the time the video file arrives.

Before the pitch

Can you tell Grady's laughing?

Many feelings and thoughts as I look at this photo. At first glance, it's a cool photo of a cool experience. A millisecond later, the sadness in the scene snaps at my skull and cracks in my ears. There could be no clearer illustration that Pablo is gone. The smiles on our faces convey the joy in honoring Pablo in front of 35,000 people.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Getting Closer To The Mound

We just found out that Grady's catching and I'm pitching. Last minute update from the Dodgers front office. We're gettin excited!

Another View From Downtown Dodgertown

Here we are with our niece Opal. Dodgers play Houston Astros tonight. Opal is from Houston. We're keeping that quiet here on the field—they beat Big Blue last night!

Batting Practice @ Dodger Stadium

We're here!