Monday, June 28, 2010


I have told many friends how peaceful and still I felt in the week between Pablo's seventh birthday and the one year anniversary of his death. Something inside me shifted. The knot in my gut that accompanies me every day relaxed and, for a brief run of days, there was more room inside me. Having a break from the knot felt good—particularly because it's back again.

What I don't tell anyone is that, mostly, I'm still hiding out. People look at me with question marks in their eyes. Before they even say 'How are you?' The emphasis on that one word—are—is the expression of true compassion. To me, it often feels like an obligation to reveal more than I am able to. Sometimes, I don't know how I am. Or I don't care how I am. Most days, I just want to fuel myself with four shots of espresso, so I don't have to worry about creating my own energy. Foolish, and a very short term game, I know, but I do it every day. I'll know things are changing with me when I avoid uber-doses of caffeine.

Last night in the car, Jo Ann and I were talking about Pablo. She said the phrase 'Pablo's final breath.' My chest tightened. My eyes filled with tears. Tears streamed down my face. My brain wondered, 'Will it always be this way? What is the point of anything anymore?' My intellect has gotten good at positing such questions. Lately, my intellect has been good for landing I've begun to resonate peacefully on a thin piece of intellectual real estate: I think of Pablo, and I think of peace, and calm and serenity. And for a brief moment it all feels OK.

The thought of Pablo, the physical Pablo, is now so far away that I have to watch videos of him to refuel the little bits of him. Of course, I remember the many giant swaths of personality that he exuded every day. The mind tends to focus on the 'greatest hits' of someone's personality. The memories gather around the sweetest, cutest, funnest moments. Harder to remember is the feeling of my son's hand on my chest; how he held me when we'd fall asleep in his bed, and how he'd reach out for me when I'd attempt to slip out and go on with my night; the way he'd push my eyelids up in the morning, asking 'Papa, are you awake?' Every day, I try to remember some of those deeper memories. I've found that they're stored in a second compartment that is easy to access, but could also easy to lose touch with.

On the topic of memories:

Today, Jo Ann and I got an email from the mother of an old playmate of Pablo's. The family moved to another neighborhood a while back, and the mother had heard of Pablo's cancer from a mutual friend. Her note is sweet, referencing fun times Pablo had with her son at Silver Lake Park. In the note, our old friend noted that while she has vivid memories of Pablo, her son doesn't remember Pablo and his days at the park very well anymore.

On first reading, I felt like someone had thrown another gallon of kerosene on the fire of anguish that's been burning in my gut for a year and a day. Those tears from last night came flooding back. That one word—anymore—softened the focus on Pablo even more. But then I read the sentence again. And again. None of the words hurt as much on the fourth read. Pablo is gone, I thought to myself. This is OK. This is the way it is. Then I remembered: Pablo had friends he didn't remember from his early years. We would have to describe an old playmate of his, and sometimes he'd feign a memory of a kid. I could tell.

Something in our old friend's letter turned my heart toward acceptance. Can't put my finger on it, but I know acceptance when it's flowing in my veins. So I'm grateful for the note.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Celebrate Pablo's Birthday With Us On Sunday

Pablo's seventh birthday is this Monday, June 21.

Many of you have sent emails and text messages this week, voicing your support. Telling me that you love me, you love Jo Ann and Grady, and you miss Pablo. And that you are there. 'There' is a place, and I know where it is. So, if you're one of the people who has sent a communique our way, thank you. We appreciate your presence. And we need it. So you know: all we need to know is that you're there. The power in that statement is immense.

As you can imagine, it's no surprise that my son's birthday is approaching. I've known the date of his birth since the sunny Saturday in 2003 when he came dancing out of the womb. We were smiling that day, holding our tiny little ball of humanity who immediately became known as Pablo. We are still smiling, remembering him. Today there is a lot of pain mixed into the sweetness of those memories. How could this not be the case? Our boy has gone away, to a place we don't understand, a place we only imagine.

For weeks, Jo Ann has been asking me to write a post inviting our friends—you!—to celebrate Pablo's birthday with us. Such a simple thing, yet I have not been able to do it. I knew a time would come where I had to do it. And now's the time.


Please join Jo Ann, Grady and me this Sunday, June 20 at 11 a.m.

Bring a blanket, lunch, lemonade, whatever makes you happy.

We'll be at Pablo's grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery (directions and details are in the side bar to your right).

We'll have cupcakes.

And we'll be there for an hour or so.

Most of all, we're looking forward to sharing our morning with you.

Please spread the word.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Fairness To Grief

To be fair to the grief process, I have to say that today was a better day than Monday. And Monday was easier than all of last week. When I'm in it, my mind does not believe there's a way out. Songs that make me feel lose their power. Books that inspire my mind sit unread. My insatiable quest for activity turns inside-out, and I want to disconnect from everyone and everything. It just doesn't feel good.

But days like today are proof that there is relief from grief. I can look at a photo of Pablo beaming a grin over a plate of pancakes and remember how happy we were the moment it was taken. I can look at a mom and her child at the gelato shop next door to our office and appreciate their playful joy. My eyes meet other people's eyes in conversation. Good things feel good.

This morning, as I climbed the treacherous Vermont Canyon and passed the Greek Theater, I became excited just thinking that in a few minutes I'd be looking over Forest Lawn Cemetery. I started talking to Pablo, which I often do on deserted roads. An entire conversation carried on as the road rose in front of us at 12%. I could hear Pablo pedaling behind me, saying, 'Papa—all I can see is your big BUTT!' I laughed pretty damn loud, like I did every time he ever said that to me. The kid had a way with thrusting statements out into the world. If you've ever hung out with me or Jo Ann, you'd never wonder where he gleaned that skill from. The fact is, Pablo took language to a really cool place. I've never heard a kid say some of the stuff he used to say.

When the road carried me to the vista above Forest Lawn, I pulled off and stood on my feet. It was the exact spot where Grady, Peter, Dean, Fred and I stood a little under a year ago, looking for the perfect grave site for Pablo. It's pretty high up. Seeing Pablo's grave is impossible. You can barely make out the giant Abraham Lincoln statue near down there. It's about the adventure and the solitude up there. One of these days, I want to hang a Pablove flag up off the fence that divides Griffith Park and Forest Lawn.

Maybe we'll do that on Pablo's birthday.