Dear Oren 

Dear Oren, 

I think it is only right that I send you some thoughts after this year’s Dad 2.0. I have a feeling you would have been proud of how this community has grown and is continuing to grow. Though you weren’t there, your fingerprints were everywhere. 

I saw an image of you in the opening montage that started the feels for the weekend. I imagined how you would have been there with us – probably off to the side quietly chatting with some of the new guys (I heard there were over 200 new attendees!) encouraging them to stay involved, welcoming them, and introducing them to some of the vets. 

I imagined you beaming with pride when Brad Meltzer (Brad freaking Meltzer came to talk to us!) spoke of legacy and invoked us to remember all those special moments and people in our lives. That’s something I remember you doing so well – thanking and acknowledging people. 

I imagined you watching and listening as so many new voices were added to the collective voice. Men who weren’t shy about their love and involvement with their children. Women who supported the cause and played a role in helping to change the image of modern fatherhood. 

I imagined you roaming the streets of DC with some of us, with your chin high, and that kind, gentle grin you always wore and realizing that the power of change isn’t simply found in the offices of the elected, but in the blogs, playrooms, kitchens, and carpools of the men and women in attendance. 

I imagined you embracing your administrative heirs, Brent and John. Telling them what a phenomenal job they have done fostering this motley crew of dad bloggers online in your absence. You would have loved the way they shared the talents of others – like the Dad Slam that John hosted that witnessed the perfect intimate mix of laughter, inappropriate jokes, and tears. You would have hugged a lot of people, but I’m guessing you would have given Scotty a big bear hug after his reading. 

You probably would have been embarrassed, because of your humility, by the things named after you – the scholarship, the Camp Kesem site, but you’ll have to excuse us. We miss you dearly and appreciate the huge footprint you have left on our community and our hearts. 

I imagine you would have gotten a kick out of Michael Strahan (yes, Michael Strahan came and talked to us) dropping a Patriots joke that infuriated Aaron. You would have laughed liked the rest of us. 

I imagine you would have wept openly, like we all did, when Beth read your letter. You would have laughed at a few of the parts, but mostly you would have seen the strength and love that Beth exudes. She is an amazing person – which surprised none of us since she married you. 

I imagine you would have had a difficult time choosing who to dine with, but would have returned to hang outside with us until the wee hours of the morning sharing jokes, parenting stories, struggles, and just plain hanging out. I imagine that you would have been surprised that Zach doesn’t speak in all caps. 

I imagine that at the end of the conference, you would have been proud of the amazing job John and Doug do. They have created the atmosphere of a family reunion that completely meshes with this group you have created. You would be astonished by the work of Carter and Whit, the voice Charlie and Andy continue to have, the reach the City Dads now have (20 cities!) and the Life of Dad crew that continues to promote and showcase fatherhood in all of its forms. 

And you would have been proud at just how diverse the group is becoming and will continue to grow into. 

Oren, you know, I still have the last message you sent me, “Thank you. I wish I could meet you again too.” That message still pulls the tears, but you know what? When I walked out of the Mandarin and saw this sunset-  

 I knew I had just witnessed your joy, kindness, and compassion again. And, Oren, you have inspired it to spread all over the world and the Internet. Thank you. 

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