Friday, November 27, 2009

ABC World News Person of the Week: Jeff Castelaz

Click here to watch the ABC News dedication to me and The Pablove Foundation. A tribute to us all in our focus on pediatric cancer.


Pablo and his plate at Thanksgiving dinner 2008

Good morning. It's been a long time. We turned the Pablog into a television station for the past seven weeks. It was fun to speak and not spell all my thoughts and feelings. Mostly because I knew the writing would recommence right about now. So, here I am, sitting in the living room, where I was a year ago on this day, with my laptop in my lap. A year ago, the early morning sounds of Pablo filled the air: his footsteps as he ran up the stairs to find me, his voice speaking to me, the escalating melody sound the television makes as it fires up, and, of course, the start of an episode of 'Sponge Bob' and the inevitable request from the TV room, 'Papa, I'm hunnnnnnnnngryyyyyyy!'

Today, is more than a year later. Today is the day when it's clear nothing will never be the same. I knew that when I went to sleep last night, and each night for the prior five months. This morning, I sit here and scroll through iPhoto and search for the photos of last year's Thanksgiving—the one with just the four of us and perhaps Polly. There are only a few pictures with people; Grady and Pablo commandeered the camera that day and snapped shots of food and other inanimate objects. I have come across those images a thousand times in the past 365 days. Today, when I want to find them, it seems impossible, so I let it go. I stop searching. Thanksgiving 2008 is there, I know it, and it will be there forever. Whatever forever means.

Last night after dinner, after being away from my beloved, ill-lit workshop for nearly two months, I was prepping my bike for today's ride. While I was away Jo Ann cleaned out the garage—a Herculean task for sure—so it was more than my long absence that had me feeling out of place in the workshop. After having my friend Chad Contreras, our mechanic on Pablove Across America, drive behind us for six weeks with a car full of fresh wheels and food and bottles, I was begrudgingly searching in the half-dark for the little bag that holds a spare inner tube, a couple CO2 cartridge and tire—the supplies needed to fix a flat. I miss Chad and everyone who worked with us on Pablove Across America. I miss Chad cracking jokes into the CB radio in my ear, and calling out each car or double semi truck that was approaching from the rear. And, of course, I miss Chad expertly replacing a punctured tire with an entirely new wheel as I stood there eating or wiping my nose. I got only five flats in over 3,400 miles, by the way. Mostly, I miss the drive and ambition of being on the road with a team of people, grinding down the miles each day in service of the Pablove purpose.

Finally, I found the little black bag and affixed it to the saddle on my bike. In the half-dark, I looked at the shelf above my fire engine red workbench. Something jumped out at me. It was a clear plastic package, the kind that is molded to whatever its contents are, and requires industrial scissors to open. I instantly knew what the package was and walked over to pick it up. The first thing I noticed was the receipt stuffed inside the package. The second thing that popped into my head was, 'Where has this thing been all this time?'

The receipt told me that I'd bought this item at 10:13 a.m. on Wednesday June 24 2009. It also told me that I had bought a clear plastic toy replica of a Colt handgun. Tears poured from my eyes. My gut seized up as it always does when I weep; air goes out but does not come back in. What I was holding in my hands was the package for the last gift I ever bought Pablo. I have no idea how it ended up on that shelf or why I saw it last night and not on any other night. I do know that I drove Grady to school for 8 a.m. on June 24. I do know that I rode my bike in the mountains for two hours immediately after. I do know I went to Sport Chalet with the express purpose of buying a toy gun for Pablo. And I do know that I cut the package open in the garage so I could hand him only the gun; the plastic BBs the gun was capable of shooting was not something we wanted to indoctrinate Pablo into. We were into Pablo shooting imaginary bullets, and so was he.

After hacking the package open in the garage, I shut the door and came in the house. The playful screams and hollers of two young boys filled the air. Pablo and his friend Mercer were tearing it up. I was happy as I walked in the door. Any time Pablo's play sounds filled our home was a good time. It meant he was feeling good. It meant his little boy-ness was winning. We loved that.

'Paaaaaabloooo!' I screamed, trying to get my voice into their mix. I called out for him a couple times. He ran over. 'I have a gift for you, sweetie.'

'OK, Papa,' he said. I remember this exchange as if it had just happened. 'What is it?'

From behind my back, I produced a clear plastic Colt gun. He grabbed it, pulled the trigger and turned toward Mercer. His face dropped. He pulled the trigger again. 'Papa, it doesn't make any noise.' He wanted the trigger to make a clicking sound, like his favorite six shooter that had broken the day before. I assured him the Colt was a cool gun as he and Mercer picked up the game they'd been playing. I knew he was disappointed. And I knew I'd get him a clicking gun the next day.

When I got home at 5 p.m. that day, Jo Ann told me Pablo was running a mild fever. I sat down next to him on the sofa. He showed me the promotional insert from the Play Mobil toy he'd just picked up on Larchmont. He pointed to the Sphinx image on the sheet. 'Papa, this is the one I want next.'

Within minutes we were rushing to CHLA. Within two hours, it would be clear to me that 'Papa, this is the one I want next' is the last thing Pablo would ever say to me.

We miss Pablo so much it makes the air go out of our lungs and the sound go out of our ears. We talk about him constantly. We search for meaning in everything as we reach toward acceptance. I learned acceptance from my son, and I will keep trudging toward acceptance for each day that I live. When I can no longer live, I suppose I will accept that too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Jo Ann, Grady and I have a lot to be grateful for, and a lot to be sad about, on this day. Our work is to balance the two—to walk toward acceptance. Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general, are no longer days when we can simply coast. Today and the days that fill the coming weeks can bring us clarity and wonder and a new connection to Pablo, if we let them.

As I rode across America, I told anyone who asked about Pablo: what he was like, what he taught me, how he endured his cancer treatment with grace and smiles. I am grateful for the six years and six days Pablo shared with us. And for the memories of Pablo that flood my brain every second of every day.

Our gratitude for our families and our community—you—is unending. We have never felt alone because of you. We will never feel the chill of loneliness, because of you. Together, we are proving that life is not a dress rehearsal.

Pablove Across America Featured In Velo News Mag

Click here to read the story: Pablove Across America ride wraps up Saturday in Los Angeles - VeloNews

ABC World News Names Jeff Its Person Of The Week

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 36: Phoenix

Today's off day is dedicated to Victoria White. Today is the four year anniversary of her diagnosis with Wilms' Tumor. And today she is clean and clear. We were lucky enough to meet her last night at the hotel.

Jeff talks with mom Pam and daughter Victoria White.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 35: San Carlos to Phoenix, Arizona

Our friend Justin Engel shot and cut this video montage from his two days with us in New Mexico.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Band Of Horses To Headline Pablove Foundation Benefit On November 21

We never miss a chance to celebrate Pablo and the Pablove Foundation mission, so we figured we ought to throw a big benefit concert the night Rick and I return to LA. I mean, we miss LA, so why not invite 1500 of our closest friends to the Avalon Theater on Vine Street? Nothing says 'home' like that. Dreamworks Studios and Dangerbird are presenting the show, and our friend Paola Palazzo from Nederlander Concerts is putting it all together.

Today, we're announcing that Band of Horses will headline the show. It's an incredible bill. Check out the graphic above for the full line up. Everyone will perform short acoustic sets. The show will be over by 10:30 p.m., so please bring your kids if you think they can stay up that late. Our friend Josh Rifkind from Songs For Kids Foundation will be roving around playing kids' songs, and, if you pull his leg he'll even bust out a jam by Outkast or Jay-Z, like he did for Pablo when he visited his room at CHLA.

. If you want to buy tickets, click here. If you want to buy VIP tickets, which will get you into the Avalon's opera boxes and backstage access, click here.

Day 31: Kingston to Silver City, New Mexico

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Larchmont bake sale for Pablove

This morning, starting at 10am, Mason Maxam & Lilly Roth-Shapiro will be hosting a lemonade/bakesale fundraiser in memory of their pre-school pal, Pablo. Join them on Larchmont Boulevard (across the street from Blockbuster — south of Beverly Boulevard) for some delicious lemonade and homemade baked treats! You can view the evite here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pablove sale at Noisette

Our friend Stephanie has a great boutique in Brooklyn...or online here:

To celebrate the anniversary of her store she is holding a 2 day sale. All merchandise is 20% off with a percentage of the proceeds coming to PABLOVE!

I just ordered the plaid tunic and a black belt! The merchandise is fabulous and prices are incredibly go check it out!

And please forward to your fashionista friends!

Coupon Code: pablove

- Jo Ann

Day 27: Fabens to El Paso, Texas

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 26: Van Horn to Fabens, Texas

We'll roll into the Mountain time zone this morning. With the extra hour we're gaining, Rick and I wanted to show our crew this hilarious cycling spoof video. Most of them hadn't seen it. Grady showed me this a couple months ago, saying, 'Papa, this is so you.'