August 2008

Practice Triathlon Today!

Originally uploaded by strong_enough

We got started at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, CA this morning at 6:15am… that was one of the hardest parts! I realized as I was setting up my transition area that I forgot my saddle bag… for the first time!

For those of you unfamiliar with such things (I know I was at the start of all of this), this is where I keep my spare tubes, CO2 cartridges, tire levers, and basically everything necessary to change a tire if I get a flat. Shoot. Naturally, I got a flat during the course of the triathlon and had to stop and wait for assistance from a teammate, stranger, or the SAG vehicle. My teammate Catherine had tubes, but they were the wrong size. A stranger gave me one of his tubes, but the stem didn’t fit in my tire… even though the tube was the right size. Finally, Ginger found me and I changed my tire. It cost me an extra 30 minutes or so, but I survived and thrived! (Also, my tire changing skills are pretty phenomenal at this point.)

I still finished in the amount of time I’d hoped to finish in… and that even included my extra tire changing time! Yay! Go me!! All in all, a successful (though tiring) day. It was half of our race distance (in miles that about a 1/2 mile swim, just about a 12.5 mile bike, and 3 mile run). Wow! It may have been “practice,” but it was the real deal.

On the fundraising front, $862 to go!! Help me reach my goal… it’s so close I can taste it! It’s not too late to donate! My deadline was extended a few days!! Yay! So as always, spread the word and the link:

Happy Saturday and thank you SO much!

I’m off to bed as I have an arrival time of 6:15am tomorrow morning at Moonlight Beach… crazy! We start our practice tri at 7:30am. It’s a 750m swim, 20K ride, and 5K run! Oh geez! Am I ready? As I’ll ever be…

Fundraising deadline got extended a few days… so make those donations, you still have time! $900 to go!

Today’s the day friends! It’s final fundraising and I’ve got about $1000 to go… remember, every little bit helps so spread the word! I could really use your help!


God broke my heart this weekend… in big and incredible ways. As I drove to Ivy Lawn on Saturday afternoon, I thought I’d be fine. I’m sad, I’m stunned, I’m heartbroken… but I haven’t cried, so I’ll be fine. Right? Wrong. Dead wrong. I parked and walked… and walked and walked some more. There were at least 200 people at the burial. I stood to sign the guest book and one of my really good friends from middle school and high school came over to me, “Come stand with us,” she said. It was as though no time had passed. I hadn’t seen her in years, but it did not matter. I saw my high school principal, “We have to stop meeting like this,” I said. I last saw him at my grandfather’s funeral two months ago. Then it began.

When I saw Alex lead the pack of boys at the front of JD’s coffin… carrying him is as a pallbearer… I lost it. The tears started and I couldn’t stop. They’re men now, but they’re still “the boys” that I knew from middle school and high school. They are teammates and classmates and friends. They are not old enough to carry that coffin. They are not old enough to trail behind it. We are not old enough to bury one of our own. The service passed by quickly; it was no more than 30 minutes long. I don’t remember all that was read or said, but I remember my own tears. I remember my friends’ tears. After the service concluded, many lined up to pay their respects to JD’s parents and family. I watched as his devastated family, his mother and grandmother, placed roses on his coffin. I watched as the entire (current) football team in uniform passed by placing flowers on his coffin, touching it, crying, and holding each other up. I watched as they embraced in a group hug. “Carry him in your hearts,” I heard. I saw friends standing stone-faced… in that desperate attempt to not fall apart. “Nice to see you, shady circumstances…” “So, five year reunion, huh?” This sucks. It was so hard, but so nice to see so many people and to see and feel that support.

Corrie and I walked up together to touch JD’s coffin and say goodbye. “I can’t believe he’s really in there,” “I can’t believe he’s really gone,” and “I don’t understand…” were commonly heard sentences. It just didn’t look big enough for our Gentle Giant. How was this possible? Was it real? I went and saw Courtney as I left the cemetery and so did a few others. I still can’t believe that she’s been gone for nearly two years. Her resting place is just a few rows over from JD’s. As I got in the car to drive to the celebration of life, Tim McGraw’s “Cowboy In Me” came on. It was JD’s favorite song. What timing…

Following the burial, a celebration of life took place at the “Majestic Ventura Theatre” and it was quite an event. JD’s name and dates were on the marquis and posters lined the walls. We were greeted with wristbands that say “You Suck!!!” over and over and over again. Oh JD, love you so much. Coach Hamil oversaw the event. He spoke first about JD and then coach after coach after teacher after friend… so many people spoke about the remarkable person JD was. Was. Wow. I still have a hard time believing it. One of them mentioned, “If you want to know what love looks like, come stand where I’m standing. Wow.” I can only imagine. JD’s old boss spoke, but she also put together a slideshow of JD’s life. “It ain’t fair you died too young…” Dang. Seriously? Had to start with that song? Most of the slideshow was country music, JD’s favorite. I can’t remember the second song, it’s all such a blur. I do remember hearing “The Dance” and laughing hysterically when “You Are So Beautiful To Me” came one with pictures of JD making funny faces. I remember the video closing after 5 or 6 songs with “You Raise Me Up” and the long, standing ovation in a very packed, near capacity Ventura Theatre. I remember them pulling his parents up and their crying embrace on the floor in front of the theatre. I’m so glad they were made to see how many came to celebrate their amazing son. Following the video, the mic was opened up to the crowd. Many people went to speak… old teammates, his students/athletes, coaches, his brother, and more. When Coach Scott’s wife closed the evening nearly four hours later, she received a great round of applause for her late husband. Oh Coach Scott, you and JD… together again, eating and talking and football and all of it…

A bunch of us went out to Winchester’s after the service to have drinks and continue the “reunion.” Shots of JD for JD were takin’ and many memories were shared. We talked and we laughed and occasionally shed more tears, but it was a wonderful evening under terrible circumstances with people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.

I’m still trying to gather it all and hold on to every moment and every word. I’m trying to retain the beauty of each second and even the overwhelming heartache. God broke my heart and the hearts of so many this weekend, but the love and support? The community and reunion? Wow. It’ll be awhile before I can truly process it all.

I am still amazed at how many people have searched for “JD Probasco” and found this blog… it’s incredible to see the stats and see number of people that he has impacted. He truly was a wonderful person with such a great heart.

In just about an hour, we’ll gather at Ivy Lawn and say goodbye to our friend. The service will take place at 1pm at Ivy Lawn in Ventura. His obituary is published here on the Ventura County Star website. His memorial will take place at Ventura Theatre.

Here is a link to a Ventura County Star article about JD, I’ve seen that my blog has gotten a number of hits from search engines today and wanted to direct you to The Star article about him. It’s a great article that really captures JD’s spirit.

Information about his memorial service can be found here at the Ventura Theatre website, just scroll down.

For anyone on Facebook, there is a group here for JD.

“Do not save your loving speeches for your friends till they are dead. Do not write them on their tombstones, speak them rather now instead.” –Anna Cummins

Years of collecting quotes has dampened the story of discovery this quotation for the first time. However, the speed and ease of simple searches online returned this quote to me this evening.

I always struggle in interpreting quotations because they often speak so directly to me. I cannot imagine them being understood in any other way than the way that I see, feel, and experience them in the moment. Cummins suggests that saving our words of gratitude, admiration, kindness, love, and each piece and reason for joy for tombstones and eulogies makes little sense. Why wait? Why hold on to those feelings when we could share them now? Why not tell those friends how much they mean to you or what joy they’ve brought to your life? Why not tell other people of their kindness and friendship now?

“Do not save your loving speeches for your friends till they are dead. Do not write them on their tombstones, speak them rather now instead.” –Anna Cummins

Tonight, August 19, 2008 at 6:26pm, JD Probasco earned his wings. I went to school with JD. He was one of the most gentle, kind, and caring individuals. He was the big teddy bear who listened to country music while working out in the weight room for football. He was so much more than that too. I can’t remember now if I ever told him how much I admired him. He was so smart and so much fun to be around. Seeing him in the hallways at school always brought a smile to my face and light to my day. But did he know? Did he know how much of an impact he had on the world around him? Did I maybe write these things in his year book? I don’t know. I can’t remember back that far. Clearly, this quote resonates deep in my soul tonight. As I see my friends’ hearts break at losing one of our own, my own heart breaks. As I think to the future and consider that I will not see JD at my high school reunion, I will not see him randomly when I make a trip home, I will not see him ever… my heart breaks. It breaks for his family and for his friends. My heart aches at the thought that others did not get a chance to know him. He should be known.

I hope that people can recognize the importance behind these words. Too often, I see that life isn’t long enough. It is cut short by accidents, disorders, diseases, and probably other categories I’m not thinking of at the moment. As any regular readers would know, the destructive forces of cancer take lives too early and too often and that is the reason I am TRI-ing as I am. JD didn’t die from cancer and while I do not know the exact cause, I do know that he died too young. I know that Courtney Nicole died too young. I know that others have gone too soon and each time I am reminded that life is fragile and we must make the most of each and every moment. We must love the people in our lives and let them know that we love them. Share that love and admiration and have no regrets. Do not save those words for later because you might not get later. You have now.

“Do not save your loving speeches for your friends till they are dead. Do not write them on their tombstones, speak them rather now instead.” –Anna Cummins

Rest in peace old friend… and say hi to my grandpa and Courtney. You are and will be missed forevermore.

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