Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hello, Again

In many ways, I have forgotten how to feel. Or maybe it's that feeling has left my body. My abdomen in particular.

I've certainly lost my ability to write on this blog. Part of me feels that we've taken up too much or your time. Part of me hates that I've ever written on this blog. The non-existence of the Pablog would mean that Pablo is still here. He is everywhere, I know, but not in the way that Jo Ann and Grady and I would like him to be. We have photos of Pablo everywhere—in our offices, all over our house, on our computers and phones.

Jo Ann and I think about Pablo constantly. Our loss is a shared loss, our grief is a shared grief. Sometimes we need to rely on friends to put their arms around us, because we're both going through the same thing at the same time with the same intensity. At any given moment, Jo Ann may wake up feeling OK after a rough few days, and I may wake up on that same day unable to face the world. We know that it's a huge deal if one of us is having an OK day after a rough patch.

Pablo took his final breath on June 27 2009. I am unable to describe how many nights have been torn open as my sleeping brain focuses on Pablo's final breaths. Sleeping, awake, I am in the midst of a never-ending swarm of memories. I am depressed, hurting in ways that I never knew possible. Each day, I question my role on this earth, in this life. And I wonder, Can Pablo see me now? Especially when I make a mistake, I wonder, Can Pablo see me now?

One of the reasons I haven't written a blog post lately is because I've been depressed. The depression is unrelenting. Many days, as the sun bathes our city, I am completely dark inside. The lights don't come on. Some days, I can't fill my lungs with breath. Even when I'm out on the bike, my lungs are as shallow as my eyelids. My brain unable to concentrate on any detail, save for the quickest way out of any room or situation that involves other people needing me or depending on me or requesting my input. I am uninterested in things that usually excite me—which is a good many things. At my lowest, I am so uninterested in everything that it becomes another huge wave of pain and discomfort.

I am aware that I scare people with my down-turned eyes, half-filled lungs and and my inability to air traffic control 800 things a minute. I am aware that many people depend on me and must wonder what unscripted event may transpire if I go off the rails. Which only pushes me further down, further away....

When I wake up every morning, I feel more tired than the night before. As I look at Sage Vaughan's portrait of Pablo, I can feel him in my arms. My body and my mind say the same thing: If Pablo were in our arms, all of this pain would go away. All of this pain would go away.

My birthday was utterly, unspeakably painful. May 17 was the day I turned 38. It was also the two year anniversary of Pablo's cancer diagnosis. I can tell you one thing about anniversaries: one doesn't have to 'make a big deal' about them. The energy revs up all on its own as the date approaches. If I had eradicated all calendars from my life, my heart would still know that Pablo's birthday was coming soon. And my heart would still know that Pablo's death date was coming soon. Anyone who doubts that we are spiritual beings, I have to assume, has lived an easier life than I.

On Monday May 17, I was in London, by myself, doing business meetings. My friend John emailed me and asked why I would choose to spend my birthday in Blighty. The answer was simple: I was on my way to the wedding of our friends Brian and Tracy in Italy. I had to do a round of meetings in London at some point soon, so it made sense to do them on the way to Italia. Plus, I had to be back in LA 36 hours after the wedding, to pull the trigger on the starting gun at Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California. So, I was hemmed in, as The Smiths song goes, like a bull between arches. Biz meetings on one side, representing The Pablove Foundation on the other. I got on the plane to go to London having never felt more internal strife ever before in my life. Of course, I was looking forward to Brian and Tracy's wedding. Of course I was looking forward to being at Lake Maggiore. And the food, the espresso, the bike ride I'd get to take. But being away from home—that was terrifying.

The birthday pain was assuaged by dear friend and client Jon Fratelli. He flew down from Glasgow to take me out for dinner. He arrived with a gift—the deluxe version of the Rolling Stones classic 'Exile On Main Street.' That was sweet, made my heart open a bit, and increased the weight of my carry-on bag by eight pounds. We had dinner at a fantastic Italian place on Hyde Park. We laughed and talked and soon the night was over. When I got back to my room, I counted down the days and hours until I would be on the plane back to LA.

The following week—last week—was a strange mix of jet lag and depression. I usually don't suffer from either. But nothing is usual anymore, and now that I've walked over those coals I am glad it's over. Last week was a very, very tough one.

This morning, Michael Ward and I rode up in the mountains, and had a great time. We laughed, and we both felt pretty damn good in the leg department. I love riding with the Warden. He makes me laugh. A lot. He has great stories, and is a great listener. He's a dad too, and, like many of my cycling friends, he was with Pablo and Jo Ann and Grady and me all the way through. And he's still here.

If you don't mind, I'm gonna stay here, too. And I think I'm gonna start writing again. It makes me feel good, and keeps me on my toes.