In loving memory of Derek K. Miller @penmachine
My friend Derek K. Miller (Penmachine) is gone. Gifted with an amazing clarity of thought, strength of character and courage, and true word wizardry, Derek had the ability to do what I have never seen anyone else do: he wrote his own epitaph. And perfectly worded, perfectly tagged. His writing was perfect, as was his whole being.
I first met Derek at Northern Voice 2008, when I fully immersed myself in the Vancouver blogging community. I shared with him and his family many a party. He taught me SO MUCH about photography, podcasting, blogging and more importantly, he taught me about love. His devotion to his wife Airdrie Hislop Miller (whom I am proud to call one of my very best friends) was only matched by his devotion to his daughters Marina, Lauren and his parents, Karl and Hilkka, all of whom I’m proud to know.
These, these two people (Derek and Airdrie) have been my inspiration for the past 4 years. I began co-organizing Mental Health Camp Vancouver with my loved friend Isabella Mori (not surprisingly, also a friend of Derek and Airdrie’s) because of Airdrie, because she organized a panel at Northern Voice 2009. I began taking better care of myself because they both urged me to do so. Derek and Airdrie may very well have saved my life. Even in Derek’s last few months, he reminded me to take care of myself, and to stop doing something, RIGHT THERE AND THEN. Derek and Airdrie reminded me that I needed to live my life, not be consumed by it.
And I did. I promised Derek that I would stop pushing myself to the limit, and I have.
I have Blogathoned for 3 years in a row (2007, 2008, 2009) for the BC Cancer Foundation in his name. Derek and Airdrie both guest-posted on my blog and their posts remain some of my absolute favorite. Airdrie wrote on her experience as the wife of a cancer patient. Truly an amazing woman. I don’t know how she did it, I don’t know how she does it. All I know is I’m proud of her and honored to be her friend.
THIS (the photo below) is such a precious memory in my head (and I remember from Arieanna’s Facebook that it is a precious memory for her. The games nights. When we were just ourselves, a group of friends. No tweetups, no meetups, no social media “scene”. Just a bunch of friends. Bloggers, for the most part, but friends all the way.
I can’t stop crying. I haven’t stopped crying since I found out that Derek had passed away. Marking final papers is proving a struggle, but it’s nothing compared to what Derek and Airdrie have gone through, and I can only imagine the pain Derek’s family is feeling. If I’m in deep pain, mine is nothing compared to theirs.
Derek’s devotion to Airdrie remained until his very last post, and I quote:
Airdrie, you were my best friend and my closest connection. I don’t know what we’d have been like without each other, but I think the world would be a poorer place. I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.
Rest In Peace, Derek K. Miller aka Penmachine. A friend to many, an inspiration to everyone who has ever read his blog and someone whose life I will honor for the rest of mine, living it to the fullest. Just like Derek did. And I look forward to spending time with Airdrie, Derek’s daughters and his extended family and help them as much as I can as they transition to a life without him in it.
The world is a wondrous place, Derek K. Miller, because you were in it. Your legacy lives on. I love you.
Derek’s website appears to be overwhelmed with traffic right now. Please read a Google Cache copy here. Derek’s writing is truly inspiring.
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