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To my dear Friend and Mentor

by Skylar Joel Harris about a year ago in grief
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To Pat Harris, may you rest in peace.

July 4th 2020 at Aurora Cemetary. Saying hello and goodbye to Pat Harris

First off I'm going to say that I'm writing this for the second time. Was cut off midstream, after 20+ minutes of writing. A pain any writer would know and sorrowfully understand. And a catalyzing fear to anyone who works with technology, "Always back up your work."

In this instance, not using facebook as a place to post original content if you intend on conveying a lengthy passage to the public.

Noted: write in word first. (Pat, scribbling down in his notebook, with a kind of chicken scratch I had to learn to read and ask for deciphering along the way.)

This past year since you died, has been one which we would meet at McMenamin’s for, and talk all about. It was always our meeting spot. Paintings, photos, signs all from times familiar though we’ll never knew where they 'actually' came from. Unless we asked of course, which you would. Curious if the workers had to go through an exam knowing why every piece of art was on the wall. Or if they are just meant to accept it like everyone else is expected to.

I miss you Pat. It’s taken me this long to find the strength and wherewithal to finally grieve you. I hadn’t known how to feel until now. Your absence is huge, because out of anyone I need to talk about anything to, it’s you. So much of my life is happening all at once.

I visited your grave, and I told you I’d be bringing some keys for you next time I come by. It was July 4th 2020. I told you, that I started using my ‘voice as an instrument.’ With voice acting and audiobooks, and not just ‘angry dragon sounds for metal music.’

No one will ever write like you did. You had a way of writing that was hard for me to read at first. But it told who you were, every time I was lured to reread it. I’d feel something new each time, and could see how you saw, if only a fraction at a time.

You taught me to be the writer I am today. Sitting with me in my room, helping me write my first book, editing every single page, every paragraph, every word. You’d ask me all the questions, and criticize how I would convey things. What stuck was when I would say it out loud and you would take note of it verbatim. Saying, “Well now… See? I like that! What you said, is so much better than what you’ve written.” You’d slap the page and look up at me and say again, “Not to say what you wrote is bad.” And would tilt you head, showing your teeth in an almost grimace: in a way saying that well… “Let’s just keep going shall we?” and we’d laugh. And you’d start to read it out loud to me. Which was okay sometimes, but it also became a little too distracting, especially if others were in the room. Which was never something I enjoyed, one on one was our best time spent.

The picture I’m using is one I feel that best represents us, a, ‘picture worth a thousand words’ kind. This was the Poker game Dan and I put together for Uncle Ricky after he died. I brought salsa, all the poker essentials, and Roy’s many floral shirts he would wear at the games. This moment captured is one where we were discussing after having chosen the shirts, how I wanted him to have my favorite one. Which is what brought me to writing this now actually. I was curious on who helped take care of your things? And where that shirt may have gone to?

It became so much more, because lately I’ve been working on writing articles of pure and honest expression from knowledge and experiences I’ve gained and put together over the past year.

But here we were. Battle of the felt, as ole Roy put it.

Poker, a game of cards but what are you playing really?

The chips symbols of the money spent to get in, but what was it to really play?

You always played knowing well the rules and would often either truly forget or feign remembering. None of us really knew only half the time, but the whole time we all knew how full of shit we all were. Which is what led to us having a good time, really.

It was here that we last really talked. The other time was after you learned your lesson with your car and drinking, and we sat at McMenamins as we do. And instead of discussing any writing, it was us as friends catching up. And that meant as much to me as all the years you spent with me, helping me compose my dreams into reality. By being my editor you helped me shape the immensity of my dreams into a form of written word someone could understand.

At the Poker game, I wondered what was taking so long in editing my chapters of my latest book. You told me, “You’ve got it bud. You don’t need me anymore… I mean there’s a couple things, but I can’t keep up anymore.” I called you out quick on how I thought it was bullshit, however I did it with grace. Because your demeanor commanded that kind of respect. I said, as I put my hand on your shoulder. “Well, I really appreciate that Pat. We both know I have plenty of room to grow... but, that’s not the only reason.” To which I managed to get out of you, as you laughed. And then in a very serious expression as if you wanted everyone to hear, knowing they weren’t listening. “I’m writing my own book.”

And you weren’t willing to talk about it either.

Your way of teaching me how to get people wanting more.

I came across some emails as I’ve been going through my Uncle’s things. I have the important stuff I need to go through when I’m ready tucked away in a special place. But the one email I happened upon was one of you talking with my Uncle Ricky about me. He was wondering why you were so dedicated to help me. My uncle was convinced what I created was a bunch of nonsense. And Pat, you defended me! You said, “Well… I’m not quite sure what its about sometimes, but it’s really interesting. I really think he’s onto something, and I want to see where it goes.”

You have always been my mentor and dear friend, no one else was willing to sit with me. After a couple days of dreaming my first book in its entirety, and listening to everything I’d come up with. I dreamt the entire book in a single night of dreaming. I drew up a map of the world, knew the flow of how the story would go, how many characters there were, their relationships, the environments and elements of how and why it was all happening.

We sat in a coffee shop for the first meeting. And your energy was never more intense. You made it clear that what I was bringing to the table wasn’t going to be a waste of time, that your time was valuable. Which from the get go, gave me the confidence in how I was going to start telling the story. Which sometimes, is led by asking questions of ‘where to start’.

From the beginning.

We met when I was little, but it was a memory I didn’t remember. You did however, and at my Granny’s celebration of life, you hung keys in front of me asking if I wanted them. I was confused… so you told me how we met when I was little. I stole your keys and hid them. You couldn’t find them for almost an hour, until my grandmother said, “I think I know where they are.” And found them in my favorite hiding spot at the time, which was apparently my toy truck.

You wrote something for me, which is another thing I’m hoping to find. You called it, “The Many Moods of Sky.”

I think it was reading this piece the many times I did, always gaining new insight of you and myself… that led me to reaching out to you about my book. Because you did, you saw the many moods of sky in the reshaping of my own mind as we bulldozed through 500+ pages together.

I’m sad that I lost the flow of the first post, but as we know the pains of a writer. You can’t let something like that get you down. You wrote it once, try it again.

I’ve been writing articles lately, and the one I’m working on now is called “My life’s work” which the bulk of it, is about how you helped me find myself through writing. But it goes down to the line of work I’ve setup for myself in life. How much I have ahead of me.

And I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you, how much I’ve wanted to sit with you and talk about the world. Our books. How I’m stepping into myself. The Director and composer of my art, and finding like minded people to help me rise it all into fruition.

And I trust you’re with me. I’m more than grateful for our time and will always look back on my memories with you as a gift.

Next post I make here will be a Pat Harris poem Written by Sky. Until then. Rest well old friend. I’ll be by to visit soon to give you some old keys to the house I’ve lived in my whole life… also, because I’m preparing to leave this era of my life. And I need you with me, to remind me of my strength to make it through… to keep true the confidence you helped me find in myself.

I love you Pat.

grief

About the author

Skylar Joel Harris

Author, Musician, Vocalist, Voice Actor, World Builder: Seeking the dream team make all the creative work come to life! I've built an entire Universe of stories from my dreams to make; Graphic Novels, Scores, Movies, Series, & Video Games.

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