Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pablo Made Me Smile, Again

Tonight, I needed to smile. I've been writing a lot over the past few days about seeking joy, having fun, learning how to let go. All those things I learned from Pablo. All those things I needed his help to continue pursuing.

I had no idea where my next smile would come from. Then I clicked on the link to Tony Hoffer's photos from Pablo's sixth birthday, on June 21 2009. I did a helluva lot more than smile when I saw these pics. Nothing makes me happier than seeing new photos. Especially photos of Pablo having fun.

Ahhhhhh. Feels so goooood to smile.

Pablo and his super-stretch ape. He loved that little guy.

That smile!

Harry looks on as Pablo shows off his cash money money necklace to Joanna. She and Tony gave him that for his sixth bday.

In this pic, I can only assume Pablo is saying, 'Awwwwwwwww sh**t!'

I swear, if Pablo were sitting next to me right now, I'd bust him out for this APE FACE!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pablove Foundation eBay Auction Needs Your Eyeballs

Keep reading to learn about The Pablove Foundation's eBay auction site

My intention in writing the Pablog is to share my experience. Has been from the first post on May 18 2008. For a long time, my writing was about the life and times of Pablo. His grace he exhibited while being treated for cancer. The fun he had wherever he went. His sudden death. The sadness, confusion and emptiness we feel in his absence. Over the past few weeks, I've written about my goal of riding across the United States. For 3,100 miles, I will be in search of Pablo. In search of me. In search of the answer. The meaning of it all. I believe that everything means something. I better. This is one helluva commitment I've made.

In planning Pablove Across America, my life has been focused on passing on the passion, fun and purpose I learned from Pablo. I do this privately, in my meditations, in my public and personal writing, and in my plan to grow The Pablove Foundation from a grassroots movement to a national call-to-arms. Looking at each of these aspects of my life written on the screen, I'm thinking, 'Damn, this is a lot of stuff.' You might think that too. Sure, it is a lot of activity. Pablo had a lot of different irons in the fire, too: chemo, blood draws, transfusions, surgeries, Tempu-Dots being shoved into his mouth a few times a day. Plus, he had play dates, art classes, crazy days of wonder and magic with Polly, 'SpongeBob' episodes, telling stories, and, of course, being the greatest son we could have ever wished for. Comparatively, I've got it easy.

My pursuit of purpose and remaining in contact with my emotions are the two central pillars in my grieving journey. Keeping Pablo alive by keeping hope in front of me touches on both of these pillars. Putting my purpose in motion keeps the emotions moving. Moving the emotions allows me to continue pursuing my purpose. It just makes sense to me. I don't know how else to do it.

Of course, I haven't been doing this alone. The team at Dangerbird have been jamming for over two months to get the Pablove Across America show on the road. A bunch of other friends from Filter Marketing, Velo Pasadena and all the bike sponsors have been jamming as well. We leave for Florida next Wednesday. Wheels roll next Saturday. Insane.

Jo Ann, Grady and I would not be where we are without your help. If you are reading the Pablog, you are a member of our central community. You're already here. You've stayed for the second act. I am deeply grateful for that. So, if you're here, you won't mind me asking you for a little more help?

Here goes: we need you to check out the experience auctions on the Pablove Foundation eBay auction site. Check it out. Bid if you see something you dig. There are only two more days of bidding. Pass it on to friends who might want to bid on riding with Lance Armstrong in Austin, or hanging on set with 'Batman' director Christopher Nolan, or getting a song produced by Garbage/Nirvana producer Butch Vig.

If all this high-stakes bidding doesn't do it for you, I respectfully ask that you consider pledging per mile on the Pablove Across America widget in the column to your right. If you've already supported us, you can also grab that widget and post it on your Facebook page, Twitter, blog, or website, so your homies have the option to spill a little out for Pablove. We need all the help we can get in supporting our mission: to FIGHT CHILDHOOD CANCER WITH LOVE.

While I have your attention, let me remind you to keep an eye on The Pablove Foundation site, pablove.org. That's where we'll be documenting the Pablove Across America ride. We're gonna post three or four video blog entries per day. A morning ride dedication, a couple bits from the road and on hospital visits, and a dinnertime check in to wrap up the day. We want you to feel like you're out there with us as we roll across the U.S. with Pablo in our heart and minds and Pablove on our lips.

While we're in ride set up mode, we're putting up one vlog per day—something related to the planning, training and purpose of the ride. It's been fun to make the videos. A bit easier and faster than writing, and generally less heavy. For some reason when I'm in front of a camera, I want to f*** around. I like that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Perez Hilton Sends Out A Ray Of Pablove

Celebrity news blogger Perez Hilton sent out a massive ray of Pablove on his site this morning, dropping Pablove Across America into his Worthy Cause section. This is a huge boost for The Pablove Foundation—Perez's site is one of the most widely read on the Internet. Between this and our Interbike activation yesterday in Las Vegas, I'm a little overwhelmed. In a good way. But feeling a bit wobbly nonetheless. The other day, I told you that one of our goals with Pablove Across America was to grow the Pablove Foundation nationally. So we're right on track. Our goals are being checked off the list one by one. It's a wonderful feeling.

You know what else? Every time we get a confirmation on a news piece or something as cool as Perez's support pops up on my email, I get the same feeling: I wish Pablo was jumping on my head and laughing and asking Jo Ann for food and pulling Grady's hair and going to the park with Polly. Of course I feel that way. I'd give up everything for that ultimate goal: to have Pablo back, here, in the physical realm.

But Pablo has not been here, in this house, since Saturday June 27 2009. So we are dedicated to carrying on his legacy of love and curiosity and passion in the name of The Pablove Foundation. We are dedicated to floating the biggest balloon as high in the sky as possible—to give back, to reach back, to help kids with cancer. And the people who help kids with cancer.

Sitting here typing in stunned gratitude for all these Pablove Foundation goals and the check marks beside them, I bring the focus of my heart back to Pablo. Our little boy with the everywhere hair, the four missing front teeth, the hands that were always alllllllmost as big as mine, the husky voice and the sinister laugh. Pablo: the reason we continue on, fighting childhood cancer with love. When I sit in Pablo's love, and remember his smile and how his eyes lit up when he was happy or excited, I am in clear connection with the source of my own passion, my own ability to carry on in my life. And certainly my motivation to ride across the continent.

Today, I will accept that all of this is happening. And that it's much-needed wind in the sails of The Pablove Foundation. I will also accept the bittersweetness of the blood in my veins at moments like these. I'd better accept it. At this point, there's no way off this train.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Viva Pab Vegas

I am tired, so this post will be really short. The Las Vegas expedition was fun and successful. The Pablove message went out over the speakers at the SRAM village, as you can see in the above photo. Due to SRAM's coverage of Pablove Across America on their website and blogs, people already knew about Pablo and about the upcoming cross-country ride. When I hopped up on the bar, and SRAM publicist Michael Zellman (the man on the left side of the photo) introduced me, people put their hands together in rapid succession. Completely unexpected. I was so thrown off by this welcome, I temporarily dropped my planned intro and focused people on the Pablove beer cups they were drinking out of. Almost everyone looked down at their dominant hand. This is what they saw while I repositioned my brain and kicked out the Pablove jams:

Throughout the day, Piero Giramonti, Diarmuid Quinn and I walked through the convention center, working our way through the Babylonian maze of bike-filled booths. We met up with every single sponsor of PAA, like a bunch of gangsters in a Tarantino movie going after a bank heist. Here's who we saw: Gary Vasconi from CAPO—he made our kits in Italy; Michael Macedon from SRAM—he designed the kits in Chicago; Doug Martin from Felt, who signed off on the bikes and enlisted his marketing team, including publicist Kip Mikler, to help carry our message to the cycling industry. He introduced us to the man who runs the Tour of California, which benefits a bunch of cancer charities. The only person we didn't run into is the masterful and sweet Felt designer Bob Thomson, he who designed the Pablove bikes. I thanked all of these people—most of whom I was meeting in person for the first time—and let them know how their efforts allowed us to focus on the mission of the ride. I also had a chance to talk with one of the editors from Velo News, one of the web and mag bibles of the bike world.

In addition to all that, Hrach from Velo Pasadena took us around to a bunch of booths. He's working on getting me a couple saddles (that's a seat for you non-bike-obsessed people) I can ride across the nation. Not just any saddles—the coolest, newest ones that aren't even out yet. I'm a geek, and I like this stuff. We hung with Michael Ward at his 'Mike and the Bike' book showroom. Always great to see his smile.

At some point, we felt the ache in our feet and legs. We looked at our watches and realized it was time to head to the airport. Joe Scully grabbed his rental car and we headed outta town. 50 minutes after wheels up, we were back in Burbank. Which reminds me—I'm tired.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taking Pablove To...Las Vegas?!

The Pablove helmet—a Giro Ionos emblazoned with Pablo's 'Punch guy' drawings and the Pablove P-heart logo.

For a long stretch of days and weeks, it seemed impossible that life could be OK again. The notion of wanting a normal day stung with selfishness and angst. How could I desire life to go back to normal when normal would require Pablo to walk in the front door, laugh, punch one of his dolls and chase around the house til he found Mommy, Papa or Grady? On top of that, just thinking about professional or personal pressure—other than the one at hand—sent my heart and intellect sinking into the abyss. Made me want to drop out entirely. July, August and the first half of September dripped along like this. Day after day. I was afraid to grip the steering wheel of life, convinced it was lined with razor blades on the back side.

Last week, out of nowhere, I realized that I'd put together a few good days. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were OK days. Each day, I leaned in a bit more. Each day, nothing hurt. Saturday, for the first time in ages, I woke up early and made it to the 7:15 a.m. start for my 100 kilometer group ride with Coach Rick. I've been afraid of that hour and that ride for some time. I had drifted off that ride even when Pablo was still here. As his treatment wore on, and the cancer recurred to his lungs, I couldn't bear to be without him for five hours on a Saturday morning. With the preciousness of life escalating from an cliche to a concern, I started to cherish waking up with Pablo. Or watching him sleep. Or waiting for him to wake me up by whispering in my ear, 'Papa, let's go upstairs. I'm awake.'

So things have not been normal for a long time. Normal took a long vacation for me. I thrive on structure, goals, order and all that kinda stuff. It was hard for me to be out there in the wilderness of aimless angst. It was disorienting for me. It was an era in which many men grow beards to memorialize the overall feeling of the phase. I am unable to grow a beard, so I have to write words to tell you about my woolly phase.

This is quite a backdrop: beards, razors, aimlessness, the abyss. It really was like that. I say 'was' because that's all starting to change. There's a new scene emerging for me. I'm drilling down deeper in my work and personal lives. I am able to focus, and for longer periods. I remember things a touch better. I even remembered the code for the burglar alarm at our office without looking it up on my Blackberry. My mind has been so preoccupied for so long, that I felt like I got a 100% on a spelling test when the alarm system did its happy-sounding double beep affirmation this morning. I gave myself a gold star.

Tomorrow, I board a plane to, of all places, Las Vegas. If you know me, you know that Las Vegas is my least favorite city in the world. That's because it's not really a city. And because I have never gambled on anything in my life. At least not with money. Lucky for me, I'm not going there looking for a city or to play the odds. I'm going there to talk Pablove Across America—and to personally thank all of our sponsors—at the Interbike convention. Interbike is the annual national bike show, where all the manufacturers show their wares to dealers and civilians alike. Think about the auto show in your city; now exchange the cars for bikes; then exchange giant dudes drooling over giant pickup trucks with skinny cycling-tweaked nerds drooling over carbon fiber and reduced gram weight, and you've got a clear vision of Interbike.

I can assure you I'm one of those nerds. For sure. And this year, I am a nerd with gear sponsors, including the Chicago-based gruppo manufacturer SRAM corporation. (Gruppo is Italian for for group of mechanical parts on a bike—the gears, shifters, brakes, derailleurs.) My SRAM friends Brian Pettit and David Zimberoff have invited me to speak at their beer-inspired happy hour—a magical time at the convention when 500-700 people crowd into their neighborhood (to call it a booth would be a wild misnomer) to guzzle free beer while the featured speaker is propped up on a table, given a wireless mic, and a very captive audience. At least as long as the beer flows.

This opportunity to speak to hundreds of captive cyclists is a real gift. It provides the ideal stage for me to expand the reach of The Pablove Foundation, simply by relaying my story of being an everyman cyclist who came home from a long Saturday ride and found a strange lump in son's abdomen. All of the people who hear my voice tomorrow will understand how turning over the pedals for 3,100 miles in 30 days will allow me to wring out my soul of its confusion, anger and angst. How riding that many miles for that many days will transform my understanding of life.

Pablove Across America is about a bunch of things for me, and for our foundation. Sure, it's a great way to raise funds on a national and international level. There's another significant goal though: expanding the reach of The Pablove Foundation's. Like, getting our message and our mission into the hearts and minds of as many people as possible, and getting them to move their bodies to carry our mission. The cycling world is a key target in this expansion. Not only because I'm, like, riding a bike across the continent, but because, for some reason, cyclists are big-hearted. Think about it: most cycling events have a charity tied to them. Cyclists show up by the hundreds to ride for MS, AIDS, Cancer of all types, food banks, blood banks and on and on. And the king of all cyclists, Lance Armstrong, runs a foundation, and he has returned to bike racing to galvanize the message of his Livestrong Foundation. The other thing about cyclists is, we live online, constantly looking up race results, news on new gear, and tracking the European pro cycling scene.

I am pretty damn excited to go to Las Vegas tomorrow with my buddies Diarmuid and Piero. In many ways, when I step off the plane in that disgrossting city, it will be the start of the Pablove Across America pre-game show. We've spent the past two months building up to Interbike—a one-stop Pablove press and promotion palace.

I have no idea what to expect. One thing I do know: when we board the plane Thursday night to come back to LA, Pablove Across America will be off to the races.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Book Dedicated To A Boy Who Loved Books

I've sat down at my computer for the past seven days and stared at the screen, not knowing what to write. A new friend, Emily, the mother of a boy who is in the kindergarten class Pablo would have been in at the Oaks, wrote to us asking if we'd like to dedicate a book in Pablo's memory at the school library. A week ago she wrote saying she'd gotten everything lined up for the dedication, and all she needed was our input on what the book plate should say. I can write and say a lot of words on any given day. The words for that book plate—not coming up for me. I want it to be simple. I also want it to convey a sense of Pablo-ness. I also want it to tell the truth about Pablo, in a way that's appropriate for children. Not easy.

Pouring out the contents of my heart and head on the Pablog is easy. Sometimes I look back at a post, and I think, 'Damn, that's a lot of words.' Some of those times I read a post and feel like I'm reading a story about my life. That's the effect of putting things on paper in order to know how I feel. If I didn't do it, I am certain—absolutely certain—my head would either implode or explode. Wouldn't matter which it would do. Human heads are meant to be in good working order. Caving in or blowing out—not good for the operation of a human body.

Tonight, I was determined to confront this task. I didn't want to leave Emily hanging any longer. Her offer of support is sweet and deeply meaningful to me. Plus, I'm leaving on October 7 for the Pablove Across America ride, and I'd like to attend the dedication at the Oaks before I fly to Florida.

The book, by the way, is Pablo's favorite—'Christopher's Harvest Time' by Elsa Beskow.

We used to talk about Elsa Beskow like she was a celebrity. I mean, she is. But we used to just love saying her name. Jo Ann and I are very linguistic people. Together, we probably speak enough words in a day to stretch from here to Portland and back.

Here are the words I emailed to Emily just a few minutes ago:

In loving memory of Pablo, a boy who followed his curiosity and love of reading and words each day of the six years and six days of his life. this book was his favorite.

Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz
June 21 2003—June 27 2009

Cynthia + Her Phoenix Visit Pablo

Sometimes, an email from a friend hits us right in the heart. This is one of those emails—from Sarah Nakane-McKee, the mother of Pablo's friend Cynthia. They went up to Pablo's grave a few days ago an hung out. While they were there, they had some fun. Just the thing to do at the grave of our little boy. If his physical self were still here, he'd have been wildly playing with Cynthia.

In the note, Sarah references the super-cool book Cynthia made for Pablo. Each page of the book is a photograph of the two paper people figures you see in these shots—Cynthia and Rachel—plus other characters. The photos and the book's narration: all done by Cynthia. Incredible stuff.

Here's the email and pics—captions by Cynthia:

Hi Jeff,

Cynthia and I went to visit Pablo's grave today. We found a beautiful phoenix bird right after the last time we were there when Cynthia wanted Pablo to be a phoenix. It was so peaceful there. We laid out a picnic blanket and had a snack. We brought the phoenix up there along with Cynthia's paper dolls from her story book of 'Pablove.' There is a second story coming from the adventure today and here are some of the pics from it...

love to you all, xxoo, Sarah & Cynthia

One of many flights off the wall

Cynthia asked that you pretend her fingers aren't there and just see the phoenix flying

Cynthia, Rachel, and the phoenix went to check out the doves and butterfly next door

A lizard came to check out the phoenix on the Geronimo jumping wall

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chili Love

'Is your dog nice?' A boy about eight years old is standing in front of Chili. We are sitting at an outdoor table at La Mill Coffee. We have walked here. Downhill. Tough stuff for an old girl like Chili. She is laying down, in the purest sense of the term. Front paws at odd angles in front of her big yellow Lab body. Tongue dangling from her mouth, pulsating with each breath. It's almost as if her tongue is attempting to detach from her throat. Chili's eyes ping-pong between curious ('Is that leash for me?') and sad ('I remember when I could run and jump like Beans').

The little boy, who is wearing a basketball jersey with a white tee shirt underneath, is looking at me. His arm is pointed in Chili's direction. He is happy. He is about to pet a dog as his family breakfasts two tables away, peering over in the direction of the chubby yellow dog who may or may not be nice.

'Yes!' I insist. 'She's very friendly.' And before my mind can edit my heart, 'And she loves to play with little boys.' The boy knelt down and began to pet Chili. She looked up at me, then at him. Her tongue continued to wag.

After a couple minutes the boy looked over at his dad looking at him. He stood up. 'Thank you.' He walked away.

Chili stood up, sniffing the air the boy left in his wake. Her ears perked up. She looked at me. She came over for a snuggle. Maybe a minute passed. A little girl and her mom emerged from inside La Mill.

'Is your dog nice?' Another tiny voice, this time from a girl. Her mother stood by her side. She was wearing a shirt that Jo Ann also has. My interaction with the girl was the same as it had been with the boy a couple minutes earlier. The girl's interaction with Chili was the same as the boy's. Chili soaked up the attention the same way she does with everyone - she glowed from her eyes and leaned into the petting hand strokes.

After a bit, the little girl looked up. 'Thank you' to me. 'Bye bye' to Chili. Mom and daughter walked down the sidewalk, stopping two tables down from us. The little boy and the little girl were brother and sister.

I wanted to walk over and thank them for, well, just being kids with Chili. I wanted to tell them about my little boy. That his name was Pablo. That 13 weeks ago, he and I sat at the very same table they'd breakfasted on. I wanted to thank the parents for allowing their children to bring a ray of light to Chili, and to me.

I did none of that. Instead, I sat in my chair and watched the family as they made plans for their next Sunday stop. Took a sip of my coffee. Let the thoughts settle. Practiced sitting with my feelings.
A sip or two later, a message floated up: the words I wanted to say to the family, are words I need to say to myself, within myself. The sweetness that flowed through me was for me, not meant to be given away and dulled in a social exchange; a gift to help me glide along my way.

A few sips later, high as a kite on French Press-extracted caffeine, a larger message - perhaps a question about a concept I like to believe - wafted its way up to my brain: was it Pablo himself who guided two children to interact with his Papa and his beloved Chili dawg?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Is Home Day, Again

Twelve Fridays ago our family was itching to go home. On that day, we were in Los Angeles, exactly two miles from our front door, at CHLA. We wanted to bring Pablo home. We wanted our family to be complete, under one roof, under the roof of the house where we live. Our little boy had somewhere to go. He had to leave us and it was clear that he was going alone and we had to love him and hold him and simply BE with him until he left. There was no way that was going to happen at a building two miles from our house. A departure so significant should happen in the most sacred space available. For us, that space was our home. The comfort and safety we all felt when we carried Pablo in the front door—I can feel it as I type this. It was so real.

Today, we are in Los Angeles, exactly 13 miles from our front door, at a hotel. It's been eight Fridays since we last slept in our own beds. We were on vacation for three weeks, and discovered bed bugs in our bed within minutes of being back—bugs that had been there since before Pablo passed away. We had no idea. We thought Jo Ann had broken out in stress-induced hives. We were wrong. The marks on her arms were bed bug bites. Normally, when I'm faced with facts this shocking—eight weeks, bed bugs—I say something along the lines of, 'What the f***'s up with that?'

We are so ready to be back to normal.

Normal is achievable only if all the residents of our home are invited to be there. Bugs and raccoons and other living things are not invited. To make that widely known, a gross-looking green tent was thrown over our house last Saturday. Then the fumigation dudes pumped an insane amount of gas into the tent. Three times what they use for termites. This was our attempt to get back to normal. To let the bugs know they were uninvited.

That's not all we've done. We are getting a new bed. Not an easy decision. But one that had to be made. After eight weeks of messing around in the extermination process, we can't take any chances that even one bed bug egg is left in our bed. I have wanted to hold onto our bed at all costs. I've been making the case for keeping it. Last week, I caved. Yes, that bed is where Pablo slept. That bed is where Pablo's physical life ended. Those things are true. After 12 weeks, Jo Ann, Grady and I are becoming more clear. We can feel Pablo with us, around us, within us. That takes away a lot of power from objects like our bed. Besides, a big ol' bed isn't exactly the most romantic reminder of our little boy. Photos, toys, his clothes—our memories!—are much better mementos.

Between now and 5 p.m., our house will be transformed back into a home. Another new start in what is turning out to be an extended series of new starts. We accept or we crumble. That's the way it works. So we accept. This is the next indicated step.

Will post pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Music + Memory

And so it starts. 'It can't get much more painful than yesterday,' I thought to myself. The key turns forward in the car ignition. 'Today has to be better.' As I turned left out of the hotel driveway, I reached for my iPod. Jo Ann and Grady were in the car in front of me. They were on the way to Grady's school. I was scared. Waking up and venturing out into the world is when it all starts to hurt. A few seconds later music was rattling the windows of my car. My kind of scene. It was 7 a.m. and this rattling felt good. Surprised the hell out of me.

Since Pablo died, music has not been a reliable refuge. I've gone to music to take me away. To underpin my rage. To be the canary in the empty coal mine that is me. For weeks and months, the music has clumsily soothed and ham-fistedly sparred with my rage. I couldn't fake it and I couldn't take it. My relationship with music has never needed a crutch. It's always been there for me. It's always worked. The perfect drug. On many drives across LA—Venice to Pasadena, Burbank to LAX—I've rolled on down the highway in silence. Audio impotence. The grief has gotten its hands around my jugular that tightly. For months, music has not worked for me. And music is something that's saved my life—over and over and over.

This morning, like a runaway lover walking back in the door after a season in hell, the power of a rock song took hold of me and dragged me down the road. The old songs that used to work started to feel good again. Music changes my chemistry. Music is not something that wafts around in the background of my life. Music is the blood splatter on the wall of life—each lyrical stab a bullet that splatters more blood in all directions.

It started with The Smiths 'The Queen Is Dead.' Amazed, I tried another from the same band. 'I Started Something I Couldn't Finish.' That one worked too. Another by the same band: 'Hand In Glove.' From our hotel in Pasadena, it's a short drive to Velo Pasadena, the start point for my bike ride with my friends Hrach and Lon. As the car lunged into the back parking lot, I wanted to keep driving, skip the ride. But I've got this commitment to ride across America and it starts in three weeks. So the songs had to wait.

A few hours later, back in the car, iPod in hand, the addiction got back into motion. Only problem is this addiction, like all good addictions, is highly progressive. I couldn't get the car stereo loud enough. And so I chase the tail of the audio dragon. For miles and miles and miles. But it feels good. Much better than driving in silence while feeling lonely and empty. Trust me.

After rock and roll saved my life, I headed to the lobby at CHLA. Today was their annual radiothon. Another chance to talk about Pablo. Another chance to speak clearly and plainly about the need for financial assistance at CHLA. I figure radio listeners are a good target for the message of Pablo + help. One thing I know about the people on the other end of a radio microphone: they have ears. And hearts. That's two things.

While I was waiting for my mic time, I went up to the Oncology Clinic. Hugged every nurse, doctor, tech I could find. Those people are our friends. They are soldiers in a very important war. They are the ones who look into the eyes of all the children a hundred times a day. It felt good to say 'Thank you' and 'I miss you.' Our friends in the clinic can't possibly hear those words enough.

From there, I ran up to 4 West to say hello to the nurses. Was it challenging being up there? Yes. I want to tell you No. But that would not be true. The elevator doors opened. I inhaled deeply. Gratitude was in my heart, and I wanted to give it away. It's never going to be easy for me to be around children with cancer. But it's always going to be important to say 'thank you' to the men and women who helped my little boy through his journey. I must have hugged a dozen people up there. Those nurses are our family.

Standing at the nurse's station, my brain said 'No' to looking at room 435. My eyes did not agree. I looked right at that room number, a blue plastic square glued to the wall. That's first and last room Pablo was ever in at CHLA. A lot of energy was released in looking at that plastic wall plate. I remembered Friday June 26, the day we wheeled Pablo out of there and took him home. I held that memory. A film in my head of something that really happened. A memory of a day my little boy was still alive. The wheelchair. The sound of him crying. The way Jo Ann held him in her arms, protecting him, loving him in the final 18 hours of his life. It's all etched into my memory. Staring room 435 in the face was part of the journey for me. I'm glad it went down this way.

I love Pablo. Do I now say I loved Pablo? F*** that. I love Pablo. That it not a thing of the past. My love for Pablo is here, now, powerful, bright. Loud. Much louder than the car stereo. No wonder Pablo always asked me to TURN IT DOWN, PAPA!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pablove + LA Dodgers = Think Cure

Remember a couple weeks ago when I went on the radiothon and telethon for the LA Dodgers ThinkCure cancer charity? I want share with you the Pablove video the Dodgers made for the telethon. This was shot a few days after we returned from our holiday in Europe. I'm not sure how I made it through the taping. Looking at it, I see myself as scared and shaken. On that day, it was hard for me to talk about Pablo. I love talking about my son any chance I get. Being away for a little over three weeks, it was hard to have this as my re-entry to the LA track of our narrative. I am grateful that the ThinkCure and Dodgers folks invited us to be part of their event. It's another iron in the Pablove fire. Another iron in the fight against cancer.

This was played while I was on Fox Sports Network. Can't remember if it ran as an intro to the Pablove segment, or in the middle. Either way, I can assure you it was an icebreaker for a guy who knows nothing about sports. Except cycling, which is still catching up to football as a sport in America.

No matter how little I know about sports, I am highly aware of how cool it is that our video is narrated by legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Brie + Jeff C. At The Malibu Triathlon

Me + Brie at Zuma Beach

Early Sunday morning, Brie and I woke up before the sun and cruised down PCH to Zuma Beach. Although there were plenty of people on the road with surf boards strapped to their cars, we weren't up + at em that early to get a good spot in the surf. In our car, there was a marathon runner in the passenger seat and in the driver's seat a Lycra-covered guy. We were headed to the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

When we got to there, it was mayhem under a gorgeous low cloud cover. People everywhere, most of them in skin-tight competition clothing, bold numbers written on arms and backs of legs and the frantic pre-race energy sparking off in all directions. 3,000 athletes, plus families and friends and—this is LA—paparazzi to film and photograph the celeb participants. We met our swimmer buddy Ivan in the transition area. Less than a minute later, we were cruising to the mandatory chalk talk with race organizer Michael Epstein. He ran through the safety guidelines and the rules—standard stuff. Then he paused to note that two athletes in this year's race lost children to cancer in the past year. As Michael was speaking, it occurred to me that I was one of the people he was talking about.

'This year's race is dedicated to Malena Shladovsky and Pablo Castelaz,' continued Michael. A wild roar of clapping and howling erupted from the sea of tri-tweaked athletes standing in the sand. I felt the tears coming up through my cheeks. Everything slowed. I wanted to scream. What actually happened was a muted cry. Not sure why, but I held back. Didn't want to open up. Brie put her hand on my back. We turned toward one another and embraced. I let it out a lot more in the shelter of her shoulder. Eleven weeks and one day ago, Brie sat at the side of our bed and compassionately guided Jo Ann and I as we guided our little boy Pablo to his final breath. As I held Brie and she held me, I released gratitude from my solar plexus. Not able to say it—again—I let the energy do the communicating. It felt safe to be there with Brie, of all people. It felt great to clear out my mind and heart with tears. Nothing is better than a good cry. I ought to know. It's on the menu every day.

From that point on, the morning flew by. Ivan is one hell of a swimmer. He zipped through the half mile ocean swim. I pounded through the 18 mile cycling course. Brie sailed through the four mile run course. We had fun. Peter, Brie and Jo Ann urged me to have fun. I tried. Mostly, I just wanted to slaughter my pedals. I did the best I could. This evening, I checked the results online. I called Brie. She'd already seen them. We spent a few minutes on the phone, proudly dissecting the data on our race. For athletigeeks like us, this is fun. We came in 8th place overall among relay teams. I came in 10th place among the cyclists on relay teams. More than anything, we had fun. And we did in honor of Pablo. My favorite way to have fun.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Half-Written Email

Scene from Pablo's Garden: a handmade flower box and SpongeBob - gifts from Pablo's friends.

I had a couple meetings yesterday at Warner Bros Records. Some Dangerbird business, some Pablove Foundation business. A nice mix. The Pablove meeting was with Holly Adams, Diarmuid Quinn and Piero Giramonti. Holly had to suffer through far too much cycling geek talk as we settled in to talk about the Pablove Across America stuff. This trio is part of our extended family at Warner - a big group of people comprised of longtime and some new friends who have banded together to help us market and raise corporate funds for Pablove Across America.

As I was walking out of that meeting, a friend of mine, Brant Weil, was standing outside Diarmuid's office. Not surprising to see him. He's a marketing exec at Warner. As I approached Brant, a smile appeared on his face - not always the case when a label guy sees a band manager. Since Brant and I don't have a project together at the moment, I knew that we were all good. 'I have a story to tell you,' he said as we stepped down the stairs into the lobby.

He began by saying something Jo Ann and I have heard countless times over the past 16 months. I'm paraphrasing here, but it went something like this: 'I've started to write this story to you a million times, but all I've got is this half-written email.' I laughed and said one of my favorite sayings of late. 'I get it dude.'

That's my fave turn lately cos it's true and cos it applies to so many things I hear from so many people. Somebody might start to tell me about their confusion and how much it hurts.

Me: 'I get it dude.'

Somebody might write an email describing a wonderful shift in their day that was inspired by simply letting go of a useless hurt or resentment.

Me: 'I get it dude.'

And my favorite, the story of the half-written email. Interestingly, that one is about the email itself, not the story it half-tells in its incomplete state. I do get the half-written email. Like, I understand it. I don't 'get' it until it's signed, sealed and delivered. Terrible attempt at levity, I know.

The thing about the half-written email - we all have them in our DRAFTS folder right now, right? - is this: it's a trick our intellect plays on our emotional selves. The thing between our ears hedges and holds back. The emotional fire dims. Gets bummed. Then the phone rings. Then the moment passes. Something like that... That's the way it always happens to me.

Brant's story was touching. It felt great to hear how Pablo's death has affected him. He was out of town when Pablo passed away. The blog post from that day hit Brant in a way that caused him to not second-guess. I'll leave it at that cos I didn't ask him for permission to tell his story. The main message is that I am grateful Brant told me his story. Whether it had come in the completed form of that half-written email or in person, as it did, his words inspired me. Made me feel clear and full of hope.

Running into Brant was unexpected. And yet it feels like our meeting was meant to happen. Like if it hadn't happened something wouldn't feel quite right about Friday September 11 2009.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Are Happy To Bring You...Pablove Across America

We are so so so happy to f i n a l l y announce the Pablove Across America ride. Countless people have helped us get here. I will write plenty about the specific efforts of Dangerbird, Filter, Sram, Felt Bikes and others in the coming days. Today's main event is to reveal the details of our new venture.

This is our first major push to expand the Pablove Foundation. You have all been incredibly supportive tin the past 16 months. Today, we ask that you continue your support of our efforts to help kids with cancer. Please spread the word FAR and WIDE. Our goal is to raise $1 million as my friend and cycling coach Rick Babington ride from St Augustine FL to Pablo's grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills here in Los Angeles.

The beginning of the PAA story is on the video with Lance Armstrong and I. The rest of it—every little detail—is on the brand new Pablove Foundation website, which launched a few minutes ago. (You may have to clear the cache in your web browser for it to appear.)

We have three specific requests to make:

• Embed the Pablove Across America website widget on your Facebook page, blog, website, or wherever.

• Spread the above video FAR and WIDE

• Invite as many people as you can think of to check out the Pablove Foundation site, and ask them to get involved. And to pass it on to their friends.

Wow. Am I selling Kool-Aid here? No, something far more important. Today is the day we are taking the big, important step to further Pablo's legacy of love and boundless energy. To grow the Pablove Foundation and grow our coffers so we can help children who have cancer—and their families—to have a better time in their treatment experience.

Pablo And Lance Meet Again

This morning, I met up with Lance Armstrong and my Mike + The Bike homie Michael Ward in the Travel Town parking lot at Griffith Park. Michael filmed Lance and I making the Pablove Across America announcement. It will be posted shortly, and we'll be on our way to carrying Pablo's legacy to an even larger swath of the world. Our aim? Anyone with a heart.

Before we shot the video, Lance and I talked about Pablo and his kids. We've both spent many afternoons with our climbing the old trains in Travel Town. As we rode side by side to the ride start at the Zoo, I pointed out to Lance the big grass field where I taught Pablo how to ride without training wheels.

As we approached the crowd of 1000-plus riders, cops and press - with news helicopters hovering around overhead - my gut filled with butterflies. To ride into that crowd next to the man whose call to action created the melee was a deeply powerful experience. As I looked over to Lance to thank him for his unflinching support, the crowd swallowed him. The head police officer on the scene approached him with a giant smile on his face. Shook his hand. Asked how he and his men could make the ride smooth and safe. Interesting, cos on the way there Lance asked me if I thought the cops would be cool. Today's ride was a Twitter flash mob. No permits. Just a bunch of riders doing what we riders do - turning over the cranks. In this case, to show solidarity with a man whose life mission is to help every single person within 10 miles of Griffith Park and beyond.

That's the way cancer works. Turns out it'll touch the lives of everyone who is reading this and everyone you see today. All day.

The video will be posted by noon LA time. Can't wait for you to see it. Can't wait to gety this thing rolling for real. The entire Dangerbird family, along with Filter Marketing and a l o t of other people and companies, has built quite a machine with Pablove and the PAA ride. I get the same feeling when I walk into our office that I did riding into that crowd this morning: butterflies.

And you know about those....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Circus Of The Universe

Today was a productive day. The main event in our family's life is the bug situation. There's now a schedule for our home to be tented and nuked. It's gonna happen on Saturday. I hope they make our house look like a Barnum & Bailey big top. At least then we could laugh a little. I'm so overwhelmed with the path that led us here that I can't bear to get into how it's taken this long to get to the nuclear solution. All I will say is that Jo Ann and I are pretty together people. We're capable of returning phone calls and dealing with complex s**t. We advocated our way through Pablo's treatment pretty damn well. Turns out the bug extermination industry is a tougher opponent than oncology. Oddly, both cancer and bed bugs are invisible opponents. I'll be glad when we have either no opponents in our lives. Hell, I'd settle for an opponent I could see. That would feel like freedom.

With a home return date to the calendar, Jo Ann and I breathed a little easier today. We've been out of our home since returning from Europe and New Hampshire. That was August 16. It's poetic that our home will be available to us again on September 16. This soothes my symmetry-loving mind. We're gonna hang at a hotel for the four or five days of the extermination process. Looking forward to that.

This bug stuff has been stressful. At just the wrong time. At the very time we thought we'd be nesting and sleeping in our own home after being away for almost a month. At the time we yearned for our sacred space, our place to weep or remember Pablo in the very place he lived. Our place to simply grieve. What we have faced is stress added to stress.

I've had a lot of time to consider what's going on. Wanna know what I've concluded? This is part of our path. This was meant to be. We are where we are in order to learn something. We are where we are because the universe has something more to teach us. Something under that circus big top needs to be ingrained in our souls. As good as it would feel right now, nobody ever said we were put on this earth to recline yknow?

We'll do that when it comes into our lives. And when it does we'll appreciate every moment of it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Might As Well Jump

Pablo in mid-flight on his Geronimo! wall at Silverlake Park, Sunday June 14 2009

Today was day one for me. Another first day. I've just about had it with firsts. Too many too fast in too short a time. But this one was unavoidable. Today was my re-entry into the realm of hardcore scheduling, building and chasing goals. For me, this starts with getting to bed early (the wonky part—too much trepidation around actually attacking my goals), waking early (the easy part), jumping up and getting to it (the hard part).

I have a bunch of major goals: training for this insane cross-country ride that starts in one month and four days, business and foundation stuff, and most important, family stuff. Digging in on family has been tough with our home under the control of a mysterious, invisible enemy—after Pablo fought one for 14 months—called bed bugs or rodent mites or whatever the hell has invaded us. Re-entry was ever going to be easy. I didn't know why back when 're-entry' was an oblique, far-off fantasy.

Now I know why: I have no idea who I am, where I am or why I am. Jo Ann thinks returning to work will be good for me. I'm scared. It's been a long time since I've walked out the front door with this much mystery. Sad + somber strings play wherever I go. The slightest bit of stress feels like walking into a wildfire inside. I don't know what area to douse first. Jo Ann is always right about what's good for me. I trust her. So I'm jumping back in with both feet—and an utterly clear plan on how I want it to work. Starting over is what I'm calling this. And the speed is SLOW. Hitting the RESET button. Pumping the brakes.

In fact, the more I write the clearer this gets. I'm not re-entering anything. I can't go back in time. I have no interest in re-entering anything. That's a mental scam that does not work for me. I am simply starting over. Pablo was a massive force in my life. Pablo remains a massive force in my life. Everything is centered around moving hearts + minds + bodies. My mission in life is that simple. Everything I've outlined in my plan, as September 8 has loomed in the ever-decreasing distance, is tied to the movement of those three things: hearts + minds + bodies. Works for music. Works for our foundation. Works for my book. I'm not afraid to say it. Not afraid to do it. F that.

Pablo showed us the way. He moved all three of those things and more. He loved to receive our love, and loved to reflect it back on us with his wide voice, his insatiable curiosity and his glimmering eyes.

If my projections are right, I'm in for one Geronimo! jump after another.

Taking Monday off. See you Tuesday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Glue, Beans, Tears + Tickets

In the first 30 seconds of Friday, I knew things were going to be interesting.

For a start, when I woke up, Beans hobbled over on three legs. Beans is our nearly three year old flat-coat Retriever Doodle. We still view her as a puppy. A puppy with four legs. Which is why I couldn't understand why she was hopping toward me when I got out of bed. Beans, I quickly deduced, had gotten into Grady's room during the night. Beans, I further figured, had jumped up on his bed, a violation of doggie rules in our house. Rules in our house are in flux at the moment. The bugs have us that wigged out. Beans, I could see, had laid on the glue trap I'd laid on Grady's bed. Beans has long-ish black hair. And the uber-sticky pest trap glue had affixed her usually gangly right front paw to her body. I was shocked. Stunned. Had no idea what to do. I laughed. Really hard. I looked Beans in the eye. She looked scared. So I stopped laughing.

I ran to our room and got a sock. Ran back to Beans, who was laying on her back at the bottom of the stairs. It looked as if she'd contemplated this glu-motional rescue all night. Without any regard for how it was actually going to work out, I put one hand on Beans' body and began slowly pulling the glue trap away from her fur. If you are inclined to cringe at stories like this, now is the best time to do so. In fact, I'm cringing as I recall the disgrossting (a fave word of Pablo's) scene that appeared. How my sick mind told me that it would be a good idea to put a sock on her paw after disconnecting the glue from her body is beyond my comprehension. But, you know what? It worked....

I called Jo Ann. Asked her what to do next. She told me to take Beans to Darla's, the dog salon. Great idea. I would have probably left the sock on her for a day and asked 50 people what to do. My brain goes blank at times like these. Our friend Richard Cawsey, who's from Sydney and has been staying at James and Vanessa's place this week, drove with me to Darla's. Beans cried the way dogs cry when their owners leave them in places stacked with other dogs and shampoo and water. Beans is such a goofball that she stopped crying the minute something fun caught her eye. She ran it, turned back toward me, cried a bit, turned back toward the fun thing, and ran away. With the sock on her paw.

Without our canine passenger, Richard and I stopped at the Starbucks down the block. We parked in front of Black Eyed Peas' studio. I was excited to point it out to Richard. I try to be a good LA host, yknow? We parked at a meter. Didn't put any money in it. 'Parking checkers don't patrol side streets,' I thought to myself. We headed to the coffee spot. Ordered. Walked to grab our drinks. The barista—a woman I know by sight, and have known by sight for a long time—looked up at us as she was sliding a cup onto the counter.

'How's Pablo doing?' she asked.

I could feel my body shudder. Richard looked at me. I didn't look back at him. Just felt secure knowing that he had my back. Part of me wanted to run. F*** the coffee. Part of me—the real part—inhaled deeply, opened my eyes, looked at her, and said the truth.

'Pablo passed away.'

I said it. For the first time. To someone who had no idea. Who hadn't heard. Who was just outside the footprint of our social circle. And the ring of life outside that. And the 150 outside that. Even in this world, where we all like to talk about how we're all too connected, we're all 'on' too much, we're all Twitter and Facebook voyeurs, someone in the ZIP code next to ours hadn't heard that Pablo. Is. Gone.

And so it happened. Someone asked me for the first time. It hurt. It felt like sliding on ice downhill in the dark. And then it didn't. When it didn't was when I exhaled and just said the words. The truth. Our barista friend replied the way you'd think she did. She was exasperated. It told her it was OK, she couldn't have known. Once that moment passed, she did precisely what I'd hoped she would: she started talking about Pablo. Telling us her memories of Pablo. All the times she'd seen him come in, grab a milk out of the cooler. That he'd stand on the counter (with my help). That she'd seen him not long ago, with Jo Ann. That he was a total cutie.

And that's how it goes.

You go in for a coffee. And you walk out crying. You walk out with more than four shots of espresso. You walk out feeling a human connection. You walk out knowing that it wasn't all a dream. That it really did happen. Life.

When we returned to the car, a parking violations officer was, in fact, on the side street where we parked. And she was, in fact, writing a ticket. For our car. I asked her if there was anything else she could write us up for. She laughed. And handed the ticket to Richard. We jumped in the car laughing our a**es off.

It was only 10:30 a.m. and we felt like we had rolled through an entire week. If you'd call glue, Beans, tears + tickets an entire week....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Jail With Pablo

I went to jail last night. Wasn't a dream. It was reality. Pablo was with me. Seriously. In my bag, I carried a photo of him. That counts, right? Also had a couple Pablog posts that I'd printed at the office. The posts and the photo of our son were for the benefit of the kids I was there to hang with. It was my honor to carry Pablo's spirit and energy into the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall. He would have loved to have been there. I mean, in Pablo's kiddie version of jail, people wore striped uniforms like this....

...and busted up boulders with big hammers for no apparent reason. The jail I went to was a little different. The inmates wore oversized grey tee shirts and grey pants with Chuck Taylors. All the gates were electronic. No guards with giant skeleton keys. Kind of a bummer about the keys. That would've been cool.

Here's how Pablo and I ended up there.

My buddy Todd Rubenstein is an entertainment lawyer by day and a volunteer instructor for the
Inside Out Writers program by night. He invited me to sit with seven young men from Block H. These guys meet with Todd every Wednesday. They listen to Todd read a piece of writing, something that sets the tone for the day. Back in June, Todd carried his own printed Pablog post into the Wednesday night writers circle. He read it as the week's writing sample, to get the kids started on a topic. He told me later that the kids dug deep in their writing that week, that they related to Pablo's story a lot.

These kids, I learned last night, know a lot about loss. One kid described the day his dad hugged him and told him that his sister had been shot three times. Another boy wrote about his best friend losing his life in a gang-related gunfight. Another dude noted the background of everyone in the room based on their neighborhood gang affiliation. He turned to Todd and I and said, 'I don't think y'all bang.' I responded, trying to be funny, but pausing to be sure I wouldn't be inappropriate in doing so, which made me sound like a nervous nerd. 'Not today,' I said. Everyone laughed. But only because I sounded like a lame-o. At any rate, I wasn't there to ask about everyone's crimes. Clearly, the dudes we hung with last night weren't in there for shoplifting.

What was more clear was that the seven participants in the group last night were incredible writers. They lit up as the pens and loose leaf paper were handed out. A young man named Pablo, who was all smiles and very happy to share his name with our Pablo, wrote furiously at the table. When it came his turn to read, he revealed two additional pieces he'd written on his own during the week. Everyone read, and everyone got feedback from the others in the room. People gave compliments and described what they'd heard in the piece. The words 'tight' and 'clean' were used quite a few times. And those were accurate descriptions of what we heard.

The courage and vulnerability of these seven young men was the most impressive thing I witnessed. Where these dudes come from, putting your feelings on paper—or anywhere—is probably not an easy thing to do. Feelings are liabilities in neighborhoods where shots ring out night after night. Feelings are what people have when they know the person inside the chalk lines. Powerful to see people taking a social risk to sit in a tiny airless room and write. Writing words is something I do every day. Sitting in that room, it took on a different dimension.

While words written and spoken were the common currency among the nine of us, Todd and I were on the guest list. We got to leave. The kids didn't. The guy who speculated about Todd and I bangin left early. He was chained at the wrists and ankles along with a few other dudes and walked elsewhere in the facility. The rest of the guys walked out in the block hall with us, and went to their cells. I got to leave and sleep in my own bed.

I opted to thumb type on my Blackberry while everyone else freestyled on paper. Todd's instruction to the group was to write about love for another person, or losing someone you love, and the pain that came from that.

Here's what I read to the group when it was my turn:

I stare at the screen. Pain? Love? For another person, within myself. What f***ing use is love, is what I think a lot lately. How can I avoid feeling anything for anyone, is what I think a lot lately. If I save all my love and spit out all my pain, will Pablo come back? If I wear my white Adidas and not my silver Nikes, will Pablo come back? I play these games over and over and over.

Walking into jail tonight I felt at home. Not because the walls in my house are painted piss yellow, but because I feel like I'm in lockdown. When I wake up in the morning I feel like the walls are closing in. In normal times I feel like that once in a while. Having it start first thing in the morning is pain on top of pain. It feels small, tight, like a jail cell. These rooms also remind me of hospital rooms. You get a bed, a place to wash up, and some people behind a central desk. Here they are called guards or discipline officers. At Childrens Hospital they're called nurses, and they're much nicer. But they don't have to deal with fights and discipline and s**t like that.

Walking in here, I felt hope. Hope for the dudes who live here. I get to leave. They don't. My greatest hope for love and for the dudes in here is that they can connect with their love and empathy and turn around whatever it is that got them here. I grew up not feeling a lot of love. I don't know everyone's story in this room, but I bet a lot of these guys are growing up the way I did. My parents left me with someone who messed me up. Felt a lot of anger, got in a lot of trouble. And that was just what I got caught doing. Somewhere in my 20s I got sick of trouble and started asking for help. That's when the word LOVE showed up on the street signs. I'm not a whole lot different than the guys in this room. A lot of people offered me help. I said 'no' time after time. At some point, after the millionth time, I started saying 'yes.' That's when I opened myself up to the possibility of love. It started with finding a way to accept myself, to stop believing I was a piece of shit. When I learned how to love me, I was able to love others.

Made me want to fight a hell of a lot less.

National Childhood Cancer Month

September is National Childhood Cancer month. People Against Childhood Cancer needs your help getting President Obama's attention to plead for an increase in funding for childhood cancer. This is a worthy cause. If you want to help out, click here to check out their site. There's a letter template there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Letting Go A Little More

I have carried these two cards in my wallet for five years. Today, I'm letting them go. Gonna mail them to myself—from the office to the house. When they arrive at home, I will put them in a memento box. The mailing part is something I made up. Don't ask me what it means. It's just a way to symbolize and formalize the letting go-ness.

I've carried these cards around for the exact reason you might think. They remind me of Scott. And I like to be reminded of him. Five years is a long time. 1,825 days. Almost the entire length of Pablo's life. In all those days, these cards made me happy, sad, angry and, ultimately, proud of the time Scott shared with me in his life. They always remind me of one thing Scott said to me the night before he died. I was sitting at the foot of his bed, my head on the covers. I was tired. Spent. Flattened. He was temperature immune—not in need of a blanket or a sheet, or even a shirt—just laying on his hospital bed, flitting in and out of sleep. As I lay in my study hall sleeping pose, I felt him lift his foot off the mattress. He rubbed the top of my head with his foot in a playful way. I looked up at him. In his almost-gone voice, he said something to me so simple, so hard for me to accept. Such a gift. He said, 'You're a good guy.' I felt so many things in the moments after those four words hit my ears. Seen is one of them. Scott always saw me, and always made me feel seen and heard. He took so much time out of his life to be interested in my life, particularly when I was in my formative years. Scott was seven years older than me, eight years older than Dean, so it's especially powerful that he reached back for us. The age disparity would rule that out in many peoples' lives.

I have tried to live up to Scott's assertion. Hasn't been easy. Sometimes I feel like a complete f*** up. Who doesn't?

Before I pull out the memento box, let me tell you about these cards.

The yellow one is a frequent drinker punch card from Intelligentsia in Chicago. This was years and years before Intelly Silverlake came about. In fact, Scott would have sold his house in Chicago and moved here in an instant if he'd have known this single fact. I swear! He'd be simply stunned at how supportive James Marcotte, Kyle Glanville and the Intelly LA crew have been with The Pablove Foundation. Scott, Dean and I started going to Intelly when there was only one location, on Broadway. Then they opened one in the lobby of the Monadnock Building in the Loop. That building was the first skyscraper. Right in the thick of the streets that Scott loved. The streets lined with buildings whose stories Scott knew by heart. When Scott was in the hospital that last time, he had a unquenchable thirst for Mexican Coke. In Chicago, you can't find that stuff as easily as you can in LA. Intelly had it. At one point, we'd bought both Loop locations out of stock. And he still wanted more!

The blue one is a Chicago Transit Authority card. I did many train rides from Midway and O'Hare airports to Scott's house south of Grant Park and the Loop. One time I got all the way to the Loop and realized I'd forgotten my suit in Midway. Had to jump off the train, drop down the stairs and ascend to the other side of the platform. It was my final and longest trip to Chicago. It was clear to Scott and to all of us that he was near the end of his life. That's why I was carrying a suit. I was frazzled running all the way back to Midway, feeling I was disappointing my brother by adding an extra 90 minutes to my arrival time. Plus, I didn't want to have to deal with buying a new suit if it had been nicked. In the end, all was alright. The damn suit bag was exactly where I'd left it, draped over the back of chair.

I feel better having told you all this. Thank you for listening.