Did you ever have one of those people… one of those people that has affected your life… even if you’ve never met them in person. Oren Miller is one of those people to me. Over the past several years, many encouraged me to pursue my Dadmissions posts. From the first keystroke I typed, I found a catharsis in writing, documenting my kids and my experience with them. But I never realized there was such a vibrant community of dad bloggers out there until Oren Miller reached out to me one day.
It was a couple of years ago when Oren sent me that message about this new group he had started uniting dads from different backgrounds across the country. It became an online brotherhood of sorts to share laughs, concerns, trials, and triumphs. For the first time I really felt like part of something bigger. Oren didn’t need to reach out to me. But he did.
Over the years, the dad bloggers group grew and grew with other guys joining the brotherhood. I’m sure they all got that encouraging first message from Oren too.
In June this past year, what felt like a kick in the face, Oren revealed he was battling lung cancer. The young husband and father wrote an essay about the new journey that he was embarking on and recalled a moment of total parenthood clarity from a vacation a few years prior. Busy with blog posts and phone calls and work… It was only on the drive home that Oren realized what he had been missing. They are some of the most heartfelt words I ever read:
It was only on the drive back home that I had the epiphany. It was only on the drive back that I realized what I had been missing out on. It was only on the drive back that I realized I had been experiencing the biggest tragedy of human existence: I was having the time of my life, and I didn’t even know it. (Oren Miller 6/14)
Maybe that’s another reason why I’ve grown to respect Oren so much. In a weird way I AM Oren. We all are. I’m that busy guy on the beach who never stops to smell the roses. And as fast as I go, Oren’s words have made me slow down and prioritize more. Oren’s words did that for me.
His story soon went global.. as dad bloggers rallied around him.. an optimist even when facing the most daunting challenges. The Baltimore Sun headline read “In The Midst Of Suffering, A Dad Finds His Heaven On Earth”.
This week Oren announced his cancer treatments are over… there’s nothing more to do. He and his family are facing the future with such incredible courage and compassion and grace. People across the country pulling for them. A guy I’ve never actually met, uniting stay at home dads, working dads, gay dads, straight dads, married dads, divorced dads. All dads.
Oren did that.
I want to thank Oren for reaching out to me that day a few years ago. I want to thank him for sending that first message. I want to thank him for being a friend to so many. I know the headline says he found Heaven on Earth, but I am certain he is destined for Heaven elsewhere too. If you didn’t know his name.. you should. His name is Oren Miller.
note from dadmissions: I wrote this before Oren passed away… I wanted him to know the universe was thinking of him… I didn’t want to wait