“Thou shalt not stand idly by.”- Anonymous
“Dada, what kind of sick is your friend? He can have my popsicle if he’s that kind of sick.” -My three year old daughter, J.
J and I are lying about on the floor. I’m stroking her head with a wet cloth and she is looking up appreciatively through those tell-tale, droopy eyes. She has fallen feverish and I’ve just gone through the ritual call to the advice nurse and been told to hang tight and watch for A, B, or C to happen in the coming days. Same old story. Call us when she’s 104. They never share a father’s sense of urgency.
For some reason I tell J. about a friend of mine who found out he was sick about a month ago, and not the kind of sick that a cold compress and a Pedialyte popsicle can do much for.
Oren has stage four cancer.
I spare her the unsettling details but Oren’s cancer has quickly spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes to his brain. Oren is a father and a husband so it is safe to say that his cancer is ravaging his entire household as I write this, and as you read it. A plight that I cant pretend to imagine, but neither can I stop imagining it these days, each time I hold my daughters, in my lap, down the slide. Each time I hold my wife’s face and kiss her when she comes through that door. I surprise myself with how many tears are left in these old ducts. I am baffled by how inextricably laced and inseparable joy can be with the painful, abject fear of losing, in an instant, the people that bring so much of it to you.
I am proud and somewhat in awe of my daughter’s innate sense of empathy. She is not the type to stand idly by in the presence of suffering. She is strong, and she is sure and she does not fall victim to the “bystander effect,” whether it’s fishing a Mater Band-aid from her pocket to patch up the scraped kid in the center of a playground crowd or offering to forfeit her last popsicle, in a similarly selfless gesture.
J’s hyper-sprightly immune system kicked that fever’s rear by sunrise. Oren has a far harder fight ahead of him.
Oren Miller is a dad blogger, a pillar of our community, and the reason my little blog has met with some modest success in the past few months. Oren founded a group of dad bloggers that took me into its fold. They’ve mentored me, helped me to get my fledgling site up and running, introduced me to like-minded dads all over the world, including some in my surrounding area that I’ve struck up relationships with. They offer immeasurable comfort and peace of mind in the form of daily encouragements, play dates, stories from the fatherhood frontlines and parenting advice that has proven far more effective than anything any outsourced advice nurse has ever said to me.
Born, of this tragedy, was a true bit of beauty. The Dad Blogger community, at large, has banded together, in legion, to help Oren fight the good fight. Brent Almond, of Designer Daddy has teamed up with the good people of GiveForward to launch a fundraiser for Oren and his family. What started with a modicum of hope of sending the Millers on a much needed vacation, has met it’s fundraising goals three-fold now and may actually help offset some of the grueling costs associated with this unforgiving disease. The chances of that increase exponentially with your contribution. Whether $5 or $5000, every dollar helps. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to not stand idly by, with false assumptions that someone else will be donating and that that, alone, will suffice. It is that unfortunate mode of thinking that leaves so many people hopeless in a world where far too often we sit inactive and hope someone else will take our stands for us.
Not me. Not my daughter. Not these Dad Bloggers. How about you?
Oren is an inspiration to anyone whose path crosses his own. Oren wrote a blog post about instilling in children an appreciation for The Arts that has inspired me to undertake a new section on my blog. My daughters and I have met with our first local painter who has agreed to be our first interview in our section showcasing visual artists in a myriad of mediums. The day we spent painting with the artist was, quite possibly, the best day of my young daughters’ lives. In light of recent events I have decided to dedicate this section to Oren Miller, fearless leader and fellow art aficionado. I’ll be posting its first entry soon.
Ciao for now,