Farewell Derek

Derek K Miller passed away yesterday after a long ordeal with colorectal cancer. His pain has finally stopped. My heart and thoughts go out to his wife, daughters and loved ones. I know all to well what it’s like to be one of the ones left behind after such an event, and my heart fills with sadness for those facing the prospect of continuing without their loved one.

Derek and I lived thousands of kilometers away from each other. In fact, we never shared the same physical location. We discovered podcasting around the same time, have exchanged emails, the rare skype conversation, and he finally joined us on Canadian Podcast Buffet after a few failed attempts this January. It seems strange to me that the end of Derek’s life would affect me as it has, but I think that says a lot about him and also about the similarities between our paths…

The culprit was colorectal cancer, the same miserable disease that ended my father’s life in 1999. My father was a man of his generation, a man of few words, and other than watching the physical toll the cancer was having on him, I never really got to know what he was thinking or feeling for much of the duration of this terminal situation. Derek’s openness about his disease almost 10 years later helped me tremendously. It was an insight into what it’s like to be betrayed by your body and a reminder that the disease is something you have, not who you are. Cancer does not define the person. Derek’s matter-of-factness and honesty as he learned and dealt with the progression of his disease has surely helped more people that he will ever know.

It’s been said that we don’t grieve for the dead but for ourselves at times like these. No matter what your beliefs (or lack thereof) are at these times, a pain-free conclusion to existence seems to be a common thread. Those left behind are the ones that feel pain. Derek’s journey, and the parallels to the journey my father took, gave me a chance to revisit those feelings and reactions with an arms-length of protection. For this, I’ll always be grateful to Derek, he helped me lay some demons to rest. I’m glad I took the time to tell him.

While our beliefs differed, Derek and I had a lot in common. It’s as if the universe said “OK, it’s time to select a geek/musician/husband/father/podcaster/41 yr old as our next victim”. Based on those criteria, he and I were very much alike. It’s hard to shake the idea that it could have just as easily been someone else – or me. Cancer is not something that’s earned, it’s something that happens to you.

We met when we were both involved in those crazy early days of podcasting, when  no boundaries had yet been set or discovered. I was telling Mark earlier, never has a death so far away hit so close to home. I guess that shows the true power of these online social connections.

I’d been dreading the coming of the dreaded “last post” (cached here) to Derek’s blog, but I also knew it would signal the end of his suffering.  I somehow knew that he would prepare something like that last post, probably because I would hope to do something similar in the same situation.

Now that his pain is over, I try to send positive vibes and thoughts to a family I don’t know. In his last post Derek claimed to have ceased to exist, but he will continue to exist for them (and for me)  for a very long time.

Peace to you and your family, Derek, and thanks.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Scarborough Dude says:

    Randomly flipped thru a book of quotes on my iPad and first one I came across was:

    “Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. You must never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much mean to you.”

  2. Bob LeDrew says:

    Bob, your feelings are shared by many people. Including this one.

  3. Dave Delaney says:

    Thank you for this Bob. I’m so happy that Derek shared his story with us all.
    While we were not close friends, I always enjoyed our time together in Seattle at Gnomedex each summer and our correspondence across our blogs, email and Twitter.

    He and Air are amazing people. Derek is so missed by so many people. We all knew this was coming, as Derek made it so clear, but I still can’t believe that this day has come.

    I’m sorry that your father suffered the same way. I hope one day we can all celebrate a cure for cancer.

  4. Morrie says:

    Bob, thanks for this post. Sincere condolences to Derek’s family and friends, the Canadian podcasting community, in which he was a beacon for so long, and to all his listeners and readers worldwide. I think I was pointed towards IHR a few years back listening to Bruce, and after listening to an episode or two I was hooked. Derek had a communications gift in that he was able to impart his knowledge clearly, concisely and with joy and enthusiasm and his love of his craft was such a joy, and so enthusiastic and infectious. Peace, Derek.

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