I’m sure you can understand why…
I really had trouble starting this post. Death is not really a subject that is pleasant to write about, but there are things that I felt needed to be put “out there”.
A friend of mine died this week.
Derek K. Miller passed away at 6:30 PM on May 3rd in his home in Burnaby BC with his family and close friends surrounding him. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but just in case you haven’t seen the over 2,000 Tweets, news articles and Facebook links to it, you can find his final post on his (now famous) blog Penmachine.com.
I’m awed and humbled by how many people have been touched and moved by his final words to the online world. From what I remember of him, I think he’d have been quietly impressed by the attention his blog was getting:
Derek was … a unique person.
I initially got to know him through the Inside Home Recording podcast – initially as a listener and then, eventually as a co-host. He was a private person but was always ready to share his unique insights and help out wherever he could. Derek was a very devoted family man – he thoroughly loved and admired his wife, Airdrie, his two daughters, Marina and Lauren, and of course their dog, Lucy. He wrote and talked about them consistently.
I never knew Derek without his cancer, but he never let the disease make people feel uncomfortable around him. He was always frank about his illness, and made sure to acknowledge the “elephant in the room”. He’d talk about his cancer if you asked him questions, but he was able to do it in such a way that would disarm or diminish undercurrents of sorrow or sympathy in any interaction with him.
I got a peek into some of Derek’s past through a couple of stories he shared with me. Those stories coupled with knowing him the past three years left me with the impression that he lived his life to the fullest – lived in the moment and looked for the positive from all perspectives. I’m quite sure that his disease caused him and his family considerable stress and sorrow, but he was never one to reveal those private aspects.
On the show, Derek would make passing comments that would allude to his perceived lack of expertise in certain subject matter, but from my perspective, I’ll freely admit, I always deferred to him as the one with the final word.
There are quite a few qualities Derek possessed that I admire and hope that I can emulate in my day-to-day life. I never saw him or heard him let any sort of temper get the best of him. He was always able to see, discuss and illuminate the merits of both sides of an issue. He’d state his opinion, but would make sure to address the positives and negatives of all points of view.
Derek and I shared a few things – we were pretty well the same age, we were dads, we were both musicians (with similar tastes in music), we both loved Star Wars and we both kept “useless” pieces of facts and information in our heads – although I have to defer to Derek as the one who probably had the more comprehensive set of facts in his noggin.
Memories and Legacy
I’ve posted about Derek a couple of times on this blog here and here – always knowing, in the back of my mind, that he’d probably be reading them. He’d leave his comments on some of my posts or mention them when we chatted. He and his blog actually inspired me to “formalize” this site and blog.
It’s odd, it’s sad and it’s depressing to know that he won’t be coming around to my plot on the Internet anymore. Same goes for knowing that I won’t see new entries popping up from Penmachine.com in my news reader anymore.
I guess we can appreciate the positives in what he left for us. His passion and involvement in various digital and social media give all of us an ability to hang onto more than personal memories of Derek.