Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by Richard Black0
Goodbye Oren Miller, Thank You For Everything Especially the Banana
A man by the name of Oren Miller passed away at the age of 42 this evening after his battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife and two young children, a group of over one thousand fellow father bloggers and many other men and women who have been touched by his words and his life.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Oren. He welcomed me into his group as he welcomed others with the words “Glad to have you here. Don’t be a dick” .
I didn’t have the hubris to contact him directly. By the time I became a part of the group he helped create Oren had been diagnosed with stage four cancer and was given a prognosis in terms of years, if not months, to live. Oren, I thought, had better things to do than tend to a newbie. In retrospect I was right and also very, very wrong.
Oren took the few months he had left doing what was most important. He spent time with his family, his wife and his children. He also continued to build and bond and help the many people he had taken under his wing. Since his passing there is not a day that has gone by where many members of our group have not mentioned a word of kindness or support, critique or comfort, that Oren continued to provide even in his last days.
I joined the group about six months ago and was welcomed with open arms in spite of, or perhaps because of, my unique take on fatherhood. It is a good group of men, a good group of fathers. We don’t always agree and, quite frankly, it would be pretty dull if we did. It’s difficult to adequately describe the community that Oren helped create. It is a place to celebrate, to learn and to provide and seek support but those are words that can be used to describe many communities. I could note that the topics we discuss are wide and, if warranted, the commentary on them is deep but those descriptions are just as banal. The place that Oren created is one in which a group of passionate men and dedicated fathers can discuss the joys and pitfalls of fatherhood, the blessings and trials of marriage, the toll of substance abuse or mental illness, and to revel in the fact that we are men and fathers.
Oren’s last post to the group concerned his most recent diagnosis. Upon the discovery that the cancer had metastasized to his brain he posted to all of us that there were no more options left, that he may have a month left and at worst maybe a few weeks. He died five days later at the age of 42. There is not a man in the group who has not wondered if he would be able to stare into the void and consider the implications of his own death, the time he would not have with his children or wife, with a modicum of the grace and that Oren showed until the very end.
I recently came across a story about Oren that I’d like to share. It’s a short story, no more than a few lines. I think Oren would have liked that.
He was confined to a bed towards the end, scarcely talking and moving even less when he asked for a reiki.
“I hear you’re a writer and that you have a blog,” the reiki mentioned as she began to work.
“Yes,” Oren responded, “let me give you my card,” and then somehow managed to reach for his nightstand and provide her with his business card.
“Oh,” said the reiki, “you are a Mr. Mom?”
“No,” Oren responded, “I’m a Mr. Dad,” and then he laid down without speaking another word.
Without Oren Miller this group, the community of which I have become a part, would be a very different place but that is as far as I can speculate. For my part I can say that through the men I have known and the words they have written I have learned quite a bit about compassion, fatherhood, writing and the fact that a banana can be used as a measure of scale in almost any setting. I believe that’s what Oren would have wanted.