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.

31 comments:

schmikey said...

Welcome back to the blog. I hope putting your journey through this helps you and your family find peace.

I haven't seen a monarch butterfly here in Colorado for a couple of years, but I've seen two this week. I've been thinking of you.

Lisa said...

thinking of you all so...so...often. Glad that you are feeling up to writing again and hoping that it opens you up just a little more each day. You are an incredible person who endures daily--moment by moment--and there are many of us out all of the map who are here for you!!
Be well...
Lisa ;)

stephanie said...

Please stay hear. It's wonderful to see you back. I can't begin to tell you how often you and Jo Ann are on my mind. And yes I've been thinking about Pablo's b day and the day he left for heaven. I've been wondering if you would post again.

My daughter has been remembering Pablo too. She printed his name on a stone and placed it with our sleeping angel in our garden. amazing that kids remember..

I know you don't know me from a hole in thew wall but we all know you. We have missed you.

My Bella even decided I should email you and find out what's up! LOL
She loved Pablo.

Again, glad you're back, hope you stay. We've missed your writing.

God Bless

tish said...

Yay! We're so happy that you're back writing on the PABLOg; we pray that your writings will bring you a sense of peace and a way to decompress your thoughts.

You have our unconditional support, as we can relate to your pain... all too well.

We love you!

Pablove always,
The Hearnes

Melinda said...

As a clinical social worker, I have a specialization and a special appreciation for grief work. Your posts are truly inspirational and surely have helped countless people out there who will never post a thing. Are you receiving any treatment for your depression? I hope you consider some, because your quality of life could at least improve some, but obviously depression treatment will just never be enough to allay your pain. It will give you perhaps a stronger foundation from which to cope with it, though. Please take good care.

steve-o said...

Jeff your honest straight forward sharing of you feelings is a blessing and I would hope therapautic for you. You are a rare man.

Chels said...

We're still here. You keep writing, we'll keep reading.

Aleisha said...

Oh, Jeff...you've been missed! You haven't taken up near ENOUGH of our time, lately. Thank you for sharing...I don't pretend to know how you feel. I'm the praying kind, and you, Joann & Grady are a constant in my conversations with my Lord. I'm praying for a peace that passes all understanding for you, JoAnn, & Grady...and all those whose daily lives were upended with Pablo's passing.

You are all loved...

jhaygood said...

welcome back, jeff. stop in whenever it works for you. we're all still here.

jenfish said...

Jeff, my heart is with you...and it aches for you. There is nothing I can say, I know. But your words move me, my friend. Your heart and your willingness to share moves me. I don't know how you and JoAnn do it every day. But just getting up and walking through it every day is something you should feel very proud of. One day at a time. One minute at a time. Breeeeeathe. Nothing is permanent....

Much love.....Jennifer

Judy said...

Glad you're back. I have followed your story for a long time now. Even though we're virtually strangers, please know, your family has been in my heart and in my prayers.
While I can't claim to going through anything even remotely close to you, I did struggle with depression and can empathize with that aspect. You have such a story to tell and yes, I believe Pablo can see you and hear you. Please keep writing...

Much love, prayers and cyber hugs to your family!

~ Judy

Heather said...

Think of you all daily.Pablo is never far from my mind and always dwells within a very special and sacred place in my heart.

Sending you you peace and love to your sad and broken heart Jeff.Hoping that if here is where you need to be, that being here helps ease the pain.

Give that beautiful wife of yours a hug from me,would you?

Heather C. said...

It is great to hear your "voice" again. I check this blog often and was thrilled to see you on here again. I am a teacher in San Diego and this time of year we observe the life cycle of butterflies. Again this year my class and I marched out to the field to let the butterflies go. As I opened the door to release the butterflies, my thoughts went right to Pablo - as they always do when I see a butterfly. Please know that you and your lovely family continue to be my thoughts and prayers.

Kate said...

I'm glad you've decided to come back to the blog, its wonderful to read your words again.
I hope that you get some peace from writing again.
I think of your boy very very often, he is not forgotten, even by those who never knew his physical being, please let us help lift and support you on the days that its needed, Kate in Ireland xx

LYNN said...

So nice to hear from you again. I think of you, Jo Ann and Grady so often. With love, Lynn

Anonymous said...

My heart jumped when I saw your latest post in my Google Reader... so glad you were pulled back to the blog. I'm a lurker who started reading the Pablog about 18 months ago. Lately I've thought often about Pablo, Jo Ann, you, and Grady. I felt like I grieved with all of you when Pablo left physically. I'm so sorry that you've been grieving and depressed. My thoughts are with you.

jess said...

We have never met, but I woke up this morning and thought of your son. I thought about you and your absence on this blog. I came to my computer and went to pablo's website and saw you had updated. Strange.

Prayers of peace to your (and your wife's) wounded heart, there really are no words...

Glad you are back.

Nina said...

finally....I was reading your tweets because I missed your writing on the blog and wondered how you were doing. Now we know, but yes, we're still here and we will listen. Maybe the writing will be some kind of therapy for you. So please keep the words coming Jeff. This is an extremely difficult time but we're here...

Good night from Europe,

Mina

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I'm sure I'm not alone in telling you that I read everything you post at least twice. Seeing such candor from someone in the grieving process is endlessly fascinating and twice as heartbreaking. I'm so glad you've chosen to continue giving us insight into what this is like for you. It means a lot to your readers. We care. Even those of us who don't know you personally -- we care what happens to you and how you're feeling.

By the way, my family adopted a rescue cat and we've named him Pablo in honor of the star of your blog. He's a hilarious, entertaining, sweet, unique and curious kitty so we thought it would be fitting. :)

Lisa Lavender Hickey said...

Once again your post leaves me utterly without words to convey exatcly what I'd like to express. Your words and open, honest, raw emotions that you so beautifully express and share with all of us, bring strength to so many. I hope that they can bring healing and peace to your heart as well! Pablo and your family are never far from my thoughts. Sending out love to you, JoAnn and Grady.

thepiersolfamily said...

Dear Jeff,
Welcome back to Pablog and nice to hear from you. We send you all love and hugs as we learn all over again how to live this life without our boys physically with us. My heart pours out to you, Jeff. We love you all and we hear you. You will be in my prayers.
Hugs hugs hugs,
laura

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad you're coming back to writing.

i think about Pablo and the rest of your family often.

Anonymous said...

missed you and your profound wisdom...
so fully understand your pain...been there, doing that...ten years strong

moll-o said...

So glad to read words from you.

My aunt, who lost a child to kidney disease, often reminds me that grief is not linear. It is circular. She used to be frustrated because she thought she had reached a new stage in the grieving process, achieved some distance, just to be blindsighted by a new and even more powerful wave.

You and Jo Ann are in our thoughts as you try to cope with this round of anniversaries. Sending our love from Germany,

Molly Boettcher (Wilm's mom)

Anonymous said...

Jeff-I discovered PABLOG early last summer, on the eve of Pablo's memorial. I was following my niece's twitter as she prepared to give birth to her first child and she menioned a memorial service for a "rad little dude". I was stunned by the power and humanity of your writing and heartbroken for your loss. I literally spend all night reading the entries backwards from what I knew was a heartbreaking ending to a time when life still seemed full of hope. I feel that I got to know you, Pablo, JoAnn and Grady and it was a feeling that stayed with me for a long, long time. I am once again heartbroken by your pain and grief and am at a loss to explain how deeply your writing has touched me.

Colleen said...

I am so glad you are back on the blog. I have missed reading about you and the family. We are here for you guys always and forever. We love you.
Your Cousins,
Colleen and Meagan

Jules said...

I'm so glad you posted again Jeff, but I'm so sorry for your pain. I think about you all often and had just been wondering if you would be writing on here again. I'm sorry that you're hurting so much - put it all on here and let us help lift you back up.

Pablove xoxo
Julie

Anonymous said...

so glad you are back - i enjoy your company xx

Michael Ward said...

Thank you Jeff. I love you.

Tweedle Beetle Tri-Athletle said...

Jeff,

Welcome back - for what it is worth, your posts help me and my family more than words can say. I call your story "My Christmas Gift" as I discovered your blog on Christmas Day 2009. There have been very few things that have moved me as much, motivated me as much than your story. You have helped me to become a better father to my two boys. For that I am truly grateful to you. I hope that your pendulum swigs back towards the side of serenity. You deserve it.

Jensen

chad said...

Welcome back Jeff. As long as you are willing to write, we will be here to listen. Pablo has touched all of our lives in various ways and we will be here to grieve with you, Jo Ann and Grady.