A letter to H-man – One Year Later

I am indulging in a brief digression from 365 ways to be happy to pay respect to a man that complimented my life in the best way.

Hey Harley Man,

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of your death… September 11th – you and  and whomever else checked into the Afterlife on that date; an infamous date. You did it like you would… coming in on that Christmas birthday and going out on a day where it would never be just about you. You know, I’m not very big on Anniversaries. I won’t miss you tomorrow any more than I missed you today or last week. I suspect I won’t miss you less on Wednesday or next week.

I’ve had thoughts beginning with something along the lines of “I can’t believe it’s been a year since…” pretty much from the time you left. I couldn’t believe a year before you died we were riding bikes in Cape Cod. I couldn’t believe it had been a year since your last birthday as we sang to you on Christmas evening. As I sat by the fire – alone – on a cold January morning I was recalling the year before when we talked about how to spend our snow day. When Spring came I remember thinking “this time last year you were in so much pain” and as summer grew hot I remembered how long you had been in the hospital and then last month I was recalling your steady decline and this week… your time at the Hospice unit.

Harley, I won’t be thinking of you any more or less tomorrow or the next day as I’ve thought of you each day that you’ve been absent from our home.  You are still a part of our stories – the ones we tell with joy and laughter when I’m with the girls or with friends. You’re part of the story I tell clients when I am talking about how to learn from your partner and when I’m teaching about acceptance. You’re part of the story I tell people who say they’ll never recover from grief as I share how I’ve incorporated your departure into my daily existence.

At the risk of sounding crazy… I can feel you holding my hand at times. I hear your voice in my head at the most necessary moments. I can sense your warmth against my back when I am most lonely at night. And, I can see you in my dreams, reminding me how present you still are no matter where I go. Tomorrow may be designated as the day marking a year since your last breath, but I know you are still here – or there – on another plane, in a different reality.

I am doing what you asked… I am living a life full of the dreams we shared. I am not stopping to let grief hold me but instead, allowing it to move with me and I know that it is waning. It is less painful these days when I come home to a dark house; as I get acclimated to your transformed spirit. I know you don’t need lamplight or doorknobs now. My tears today are more often a result of the gratitude I feel for the comfort, wisdom, and guidance that you provided over those ten years than they are for the absence of your physicality. Those elements have been woven into the energy that I feel every time I walk into the house or bring you to mind.

I have to assume you are able to be a part of the ‘knowing’ now – exactly in the way you wished and consequently can see how very loved you have been… they – all those that love you – have honored you with kindness in the world, in so many different ways. I want to believe that you see it… and that your soul can absorb the love exerted from this vibration. You are as alive in our hearts now as you were when you were walking and talking with us and yet… we miss the walking and talking.

Tomorrow may be the day that marks a year but today… and each day… rolls around without your breath against my neck or your kiss on my temple yet they are days where the memory of you lights my path. It moves me; guides me; inspires me; and motivates me to be better.

You… are missed and remembered EVERY day – regardless of clocks or calendars yet you are with me; with us. Stay if you can… go if you must – it won’t matter because a part of you is always available here… the vibration of your existence lives here and I feel you.

Loving you still.

With love, gratitude, and honor…

Les

Our Choices are Lessons

It would be really easy to blame my choices on the bad information that I was given.

“Never blame another person for your personal choices — you are still the one who must live out the consequences of your choices.”   Caroline Myss

I am touched by the number of people who have reached out to check in on me. It appears that my delinquency in writing has been noticed and I am writing today – in part – to let y’all know that I am great – just crazy, crazy busy. I’ve been thinking about choices lately and I have an unscheduled hour today so I am happy to share some thoughts…

The actuality is that I still write a little every day. I have a half dozen blog posts started about various topics. I’ve been diligently working on editing my book and I am scheduled to attend a writing workshop in April to learn more about self-publishing. I have an outline started for a fictional story and I think about those characters quite a bit.

In addition, it is tax time and when you own your own business, collecting the information necessary to complete a return can be challenging. Some people are fantastic at recordkeeping and organization. I am mediocre at best, which is generally fine except for every February when I start thinking about taxes. This year has been more intense because I’ve stepped in and helped Harlan get things together because he is thinking about retiring and we are organizing all the information needed to profile why his business would be a great investment for someone else.

Now that the girls have moved out semi-permanently (I assume that Em will be back for a bit next year after she graduates) I’ve been slowly cleaning out and organizing the upstairs spaces. Several weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to get some estimates on updating the second floor bathroom which is covered in tile including decorative one inch squares that are forest green. I remember the popularity of that color in the 90’s and I respect that some people may still enjoy the tranquility it can promote but for me – it is too harsh. The bathroom in general reminded me of a 1950’s psychiatric hospital. It needed attention and I started obtaining quotes for a remodel.

One of the people who came by dropped a price that was irresistible and so we gave him the go-ahead to remodel; basic stuff – new fixtures, wainscoting, paint. In the meantime, my accountant called to let me know how much I owed the IRS and it was a number much – much – lower than I had anticipated. YAY!! Great News!! One of the first things I thought of was dang… that Gratitude thing really works!

It turned out that the man refreshing our bath was quite a handyman too so I went through the house and made a list of all the things that we had been placing on the back burner. Most were little things, broken this – malfunctioning that… I was happy!! In our household – Harlan worries about the big things. He focuses on making sure that our roof is in good shape and that the furnace is maintained. I worry about the little things and perhaps ‘worry’ is overstated but you know… if the color of the switch plate and the switch itself don’t match – I notice and every time I turn on the light – well… I notice. Certainly, changing a switch plate is a no-brainer but it was the switch that needed changed and I don’t do electricity.

Dan the Dude – as I call him – became my buddy as Harlan and I made lists of things for him to do. After a week, it was apparent that he knows what he was doing and Harlan was firmly on board with the idea of having Dan tackle the things that he no longer had the energy to do. It was exciting to feel such a strong and vibrant sense of accomplishment.

Things were getting done around the house; we had a number of doctor’s appointments who provided some encouragement about procedures that may offer pain relief for Harlan; I was making great headway compiling detailed information about Harlan’s business and creating a nice presentation for it; and my practice schedule started to explode. And then, I went to pick up my taxes.

As the accountant reviewed the prepared documents it was obvious that something was amiss… this was the first year in more than a dozen that I had opted to use professional help so I know a bit about how my return should look. When he gave me the information over the phone about how much I owed, I thought “Holy cow! Why did I wait so long to pay someone else to do this?” – thinking that he obviously had some knowledge about how to lower my tax obligation that I had been missing all these years. Well… nope, he didn’t. It seems that he simply wasn’t paying attention and failed to notice the income information I had provided – using only the 1099 that Square.Inc (my credit card processing company) had sent – missing over HALF of my income.

*deep breath*

As I warned myself no to have a heart attack and pointed out his error, he humbly apologized and entered the correct numbers. My amount due – more than When yWtripled  – which would have been ok if it had been in the hundreds, but… it was in the thousands. Suddenly, I realized that I was going to have to call Dan the Dude and put a halt to anything that he hadn’t already started. Bummer. I was having so much fun with that list!

And then I laughed. I had to laugh because I know better. I’ve been doing taxes long enough to know that I had estimated my need closely. And… I’ve lived long enough to know better than to count my chickens too soon! I knew better but I chose to ignore what I thought I knew. It was a choice.

That is why I am thinking about choices.

I could spend energy complaining about how I am a victim of the accountant’s mistake. I could lament about how crappy it is that now I can’t have Dan the Dude complete the things we want done. It would be really easy to blame my choices on the bad information that I was given. But that wouldn’t be honest.

I am responsible for the choices I make. In this case, I relied on someone else to provide particulars but I was the one who failed to verify the data; the one who jumped the gun. And that’s how it goes sometimes. I am able take responsibility for this error and chalk it up as a reminder. Leslyn… in the future, validate what you know.

Isn’t it funny how easy it is to believe what we ‘want’ to believe? How quickly we throw our knowledge aside to satisfy our ego? Our wants? For me, this wasn’t a *dangerous* lesson but it quickly could have turned into that if I didn’t have backup resources or other income opportunities.

And so, I am grateful for this lesson and its reminder.