My tears stained my pillow 5 days ago. 5 days ago, my friend Oren revealed that his cancer treatment was no longer working. In true Oren fashion, he didn’t just come out and say it – there was a story. At the end of that story though was this sentence:
“But in the end, I’m done.”
I’m not sure what hit me most, that my friend was indeed dying, the thought of what his family was going through, or the idea of never seeing him again. I had just put my children to bed, and was (doing what they say you shouldn’t) checking Facebook that one last time before I went to sleep. That night I cried myself to sleep.
I had just returned back from a trip where Oren had been honored. Dad 2.0, the annual dad conference, that I have had the pleasure of attending the last three years, had just named a scholarship program after Oren. Though Oren could not attend, his words were delivered and appreciated. What’s more, the conference ended with the news that we would be traveling to Washington DC next year – practically in his backyard.
Several of us sent him a flurry of messages upon returning home. His response caught me off guard as I hadn’t read his aforementioned post yet. I told him how cool it was that they named the scholarship after him. I told him that I hoped he was smiling knowing that a ton of us were thinking of him. I told him that I missed him.
He responded that he wished he could meet me again too. And that’s when I saw the post. That’s when the tears started.
His bluntness, his bravery, allowed us to share things with him that are usually only shared at a funeral. After a person has died. I’m not going to repeat what was said out of respect for the sanctity of the group, but suffice to say – if he didn’t know that he was appreciated before his post, he did afterwards. I am thankful for that. I am thankful that he got to hear, read, see all of the love sent his way.
Okay, I know it sounds silly – even Oren gave the group a tagline “A blogging dads group. So crazy it might just work.” So he starts a private group on Facebook, 30 guys join, 100 guys join, 500 guys join, 1000 guys join. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is.
I’m not going to sit here and say that Oren started the fatherhood movement, but he championed it. He helped organized it. He facilitated a place where men, fathers, can communicate with other men about so many aspects of fatherhood. Of life. And through it all, he was the gatekeeper. He was the quiet voice of reason when people weren’t being reasonable. He was the quiet smile, the quick joke, and soothing chat that seemed to set the perspective back to reality. He was a friend to the masses, a welcomer, a connector, an encourager.
He was one of the first people that I “virtually” met in the dad blogger community – and then I got to meet him in real life. He was humble, kind, quick witted. He seemed to be everywhere. With everyone. He wasn’t a self promoter. He was a community promoter. He was a friend.
And I miss him.