Five days ago, I wrote an email to my friend and fellow blogger Oren Miller. I heard he wasn't doing well and I feared I wouldn't get a chance to hear from him if I waited. You may remember him from a previous post I wrote where dad bloggers all over were raising money to support him and his family after doctors diagnosed his Stage 4 lung cancer. In the window of time we started the fundraiser, we collectively raised $35,455 for Oren and his family, a feat worthy of all its praise.
I wanted to tell him just how important him creating the Facebook group Dad Bloggers was to me but I knew that any spouting off by me about how great he was would be deflected. It was never about him, it was always about us, all of us.
He had this crazy idea that if he started a group maybe we could come together and support one another. It grew from hundreds of members to well over a thousand in no time.The Dad Bloggers Facebook group he created is singly the most supportive group I have ever been a part of online. Dads in this community support one another not only through words but in real life visits, crashes on each other's couches, and words of encouragement and support when fathering has us puzzled.
A gathering of these dads means you are always accepted. It's the reason I can go to Dad 2.0 Summit and feel like it's my reunion of long time friends. It's like walking into Cheers and you are Norm.
Yesterday, I found out that Oren lost his battle with cancer. Fuck cancer. It's not fair.
So I'm looking at the email I sent him, about what I said to him not five days ago about how thankful I was that he started the group.
Thank you for the idea. Thank you for giving a crazy idea a chance. Thank you for uniting a brotherhood of dads through the internet of all places.
When I think about my life and how it has impacted others, I hope that I get to say that I had that sort of influence on people. You didn't ever do it for fame or glory but just to help others and help give them a place where feel they belong. All the while, you still remain as humble as ever while still being true to yourself when you see some bullshit going down.
So many guys probably have better words than I. I just want you to know that I admire and respect you as a man and a father. I'll continue to pray for you and your family through it all. Much love to you and your family.Of course he was as humble as ever. I knew it would happen and his response didn't surprise me.
I appreciate what you wrote. I've always tried to make this not about me--knowing that the second it becomes about one person, it would fail. I'm glad it continues and gets even better, I think. Thanks to you and to everyone who's made it successful.
There plain as day, he is still thanking me. Thanking everyone who has made it successful. When I first met him in Washington DC at the National At Home Dad Convention he told me that he was "just an opinionated guy with the funny accent". We talked for a bit while we drank our coffee about blogging and family. I was just getting started writing my blog and I looked up to him. There were many quiet pauses but also lots of laughter. I still don't remember him talking much about himself, just asking me questions about my family. He always seemed to turn it back on me.
|Oren Miller, front crouching, with NAHDN members in DC|
What he did love to talk about were his kids. How important being a dad was and how being there for his children so his wife could focus on her career was the greatest job he has ever had. He'd say what he would need to say and flash his smile, maybe look down while he did, but it will always be that smile that I will remember most.
Like the picture in this post, taken at Dad 2.0 in New Orleans while on the walking tour, our guide in the foreground, Dave Taylor to the left and Oren to the right. We couldn't really hear what she was saying and Dave said something to him while the guide's back was turned. She wheeled around and stared at Oren because she didn't think he was paying attention and he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I was just taking a picture of the guide as it happened to capture that moment and there was his smile.
I'm grateful for his words, his blog, his voice for all modern fathers. The way he would stick up for something he believed in and insert his opinion into the debate. I'm a better person for knowing him, we all are. I'm a better person because of his group, for the contribution he gave to so many fathers, to give them a place to feel welcome and loved.
Beyond the group he was just a dad with two beautiful children and a loving wife doing what was best for his family by staying at home and caring for his kids. It was never about him but what he could give to others and we will miss him dearly.