After our Saturday keynote, we were honored to name our Scholarship Fund after our friend, Oren Miller, who is fighting Stage IV lung cancer. For years, Oren has been instrumental in building a worldwide community of dad bloggers, and we were grateful for the chance to help establish his lasting legacy.
Oren was too ill to join us in San Francisco, but he did send along this note, which Brent Almond read from the podium. And now, we’re publishing it here, to give it the larger audience it deserves.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. It’s a true honor to know so many people I admire and am proud to call friends are here now, and I only wish I could be here with you.
In case you don’t know my story, I’m sick. Been sick for a few months now. Some people think I’m brave, but honestly, I haven’t dealt with this health situation as well as I had hoped I would. It’s been much harder than I’d imagined it to be, to be honest. Like I wrote on one of my blog posts, it’s not so much about not fighting hard enough, but about losing the ability and the motivation to fight at all.
Luckily, I have hundreds of good people in my corner, supporting me, pushing me, grabbing the white towel from my hands and telling me to keep on fighting. You are my motivation. This community here, all of you, and especially the guy reading this thing, have done for me and for my family more than anyone has ever done. You’ve sustained our family when my wife was forced to cut back on her work and the co-pays started to accumulate, you’ve sustained us mentally when we feared we were going to face an abyss by ourselves, and you’ve taught me the meaning of friendship. I’m forever grateful to all of you.
It was a hard summer, followed by a harder winter, but somehow, with everything going on, I still feel lucky. I’m lucky because my wife is amazing. I’m lucky because I look at my kids and feel this whole experience, from start to the inevitable end, will leave them stronger. And I’m lucky because a community of like-minded people has been supporting me from the beginning.
And I’m proud. Knowing I had even a small, passive part in getting some well-deserved writers get more readers, through the group and through opportunities within the group, is an amazing feeling. I used to play in a band in my twenties, and I was always frustrated because so many good bands would never make it anywhere. I used to think someone should really do something about it… And now, I’m proud, because I was able to do something about it. If this thing I started has made one good writer have one more reader, then I feel I have a reason to be proud.
And I’m grateful and honored today. As weird as it is for me as an introvert to have my name attached to anything, knowing my name will come to represent the possibility of a blogging dad being able to come here to better himself as a writer and as a dad is an incredible feeling. Knowing my name will continue to be associated with this community makes me feel immortal.
Now that the community has grown so much, though, some question if it’s still even a community. It’s not like in the good old days, some say. But I think all it takes is for everyone in this room to look around them and see all the people they know–the people they’ve met before on Facebook or in previous summits. The more people join our community, the louder our collective voices get, as modern dads, as worthy writers, and as advocates for a parenting style that transcends outdated stereotypes. Knowing my name will continue to be associated with this growing community is a great gift. Of course I feel unworthy, but I’ve been feeling unworthy for months now, so that’s okay.
So… unworthy, lucky, proud, grateful, honored… But most of all, sad I can’t be with you today. I got my summit ticket in early May, two weeks before the backaches started, and I wasn’t sure until recently if I would be able to make it. Well, turns out I’m staying home this year. But the possibility of making it to the next Dad 2.0 is one the things that keeps me going. “The New Normal” changes daily, and I have to believe I will see you all next year.
Until then, I hope you have an amazing time in San Francisco. And I hope you come to visit when you’re in the neighborhood. Thank you for letting me speak here and thank you for listening. I love you all.