Canadian blogger leaves post-mortem message
TORONTO – A Canadian blogger's moving last message of love and hope published after he died from colon cancer last week has drawn millions of hits from people everywhere inspired by his grace.
Derek Miller, 41, ends it with a declaration to his wife of 16 years: "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."
The message entitled "The Last Post" was added to his site penmachine.com. last Wednesday, one day after Miller died in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Miller, who been blogging for 10 years, had been one of the best known bloggers in British Columbia. He was diagnosed with stage four metastatic colorectal cancer in 2007.
Miller's post-mortem message May 4 went viral, drawing 143 comments from friends and strangers. The heavy traffic caused the site to crash, forcing a friend of Miller's to move the site to another server.
"Here it is. I'm dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive," read the post.
"It turns out that no one can imagine what's really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can't expect our plans to work out," he wrote in his final post.
"I think and hope that's what my daughters can take from my disease and death. And that my wonderful, amazing wife Airdrie can see too. Not that they could die any day, but that they should pursue what they enjoy, and what stimulates their minds, as much as possible they can be ready for opportunities, as well as not disappointed when things go sideways, as they inevitably do."
His wife, Airdrie Miller, said she believed the site had about 3 million hits after his last post. Alistair Calder, the friend who moved the site to a larger server after it crashed, said it could have been as high as 8 million hits, but it was hard to pin down the number because of the crash.
Airdrie Miller, who also blogged about her experience dealing with his cancer at talkingtoair.com, said her husband had lost his voice for the past two months and his blog helped her cope, knowing that though he couldn't speak, his mind was still active.
"When he lost his voice is when I really started reading his blog so I could know what was going on in his head. We used text messaging, twitter, all forms of social media to connect," she said. "And even now, when my daughter is finding it hard to cope, she'll text me in the middle of the night and sometimes I wake up to 43 texts from her. All these modes have allowed us all to communicate while going through such a difficult time. His blog will become a memorial for me."
Friend and fellow blogger Mark Blevis said Miller's death caught him off guard.
"I didn't expect his decline in health over the last few months to be so fast. More importantly, you realize how small the world has become and how close we've all become through our online relationships, which become real world relationships," said Blevis.
Miller wore many hats in his lifetime. He had a marine biologist degree, but had worked as a writer and editor since the 1980s. He was also a musician and photographer.
In his blog's bio section, he wrote that he discovered his cancer was terminal late in 2010 and that he expected it to kill him sometime in 2011 or early 2012.
The father of two daughters, aged 11 and 13, blogged about everything from getting his voice back to sipping cherry cola at 3 a.m. in his hospital bed to his realization that death was impending.
In a post entitled "A wondrous place" Miller wrote, "The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don't look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same."