I remember going to my first Northern Voice conference. At the time I knew almost no one in the Vancouver blog scene and I remember, like it were yesterday, that Darren asked the whole crowd to yell “Hi Derek!” while he videotaped it because, apparently, someone named Derek was unable to attend that year’s Northern Voice conference because he was receiving treatment for cancer and they wanted to make sure that Derek knew he was missed by everyone at the conference. And I remember thinking, “Wow, everyone here knows this Derek guy.”

Now, if you are one of my readers from the Vancouver blog scene, then you know Derek. But for my readers from other aspects of my life, you might not know who Derek is. Derek is a man who has been blogging, in some form or another, since before there even were blogs. He is, among other things, a musician, a very talented writer, a science enthusiastic, a podcaster, a skeptic, a photographer, a husband, and a father. He is also dying of cancer.

When I think about it, I probably haven’t seen Derek in person all *that* many times in real life. A Northern Voice conference or Bar Camp here, a birthday party or dinner out there. But I’ve been following his blog and Twitter, and those of his wife, since pretty soon after that first Northern Voice that I went to and I consider both Derek & Airdrie to be good friends of mine. It’s amazing, really, the friendships you can build through reading other people’s blogs and tweets, and interacting via comments and @ replies and Facebook. Derek & Airdrie are both very open and candid about what they are facing and I am constantly floored by the grace and giving nature of both of them. You honestly could not meet two nicer people, a more amazing couple, or a more fantastic family than theirs –  not surprisingly, given who their parents are, their two young daughters are absolutely lovely. And “lovely” isn’t a word I use very often, but I can’t think of a better word to describe these two smart, humorous, and, well, absolutely lovely girls.

Tonight I’m going to a Living Wake for Derek. And while it’s bittersweet that this party is being thrown because Derek won’t be with us for that much longer, I am thrilled that we will get a chance to celebrate the amazing life of Derek while he is still here with us to enjoy it too. No one knows how much time he has left, but I am honoured to be able to celebrate with him and to call him a friend.

And if you haven’t read his blog before, I suggest you do. It’s pretty awesome. Oh yeah, and for his legacy he wants everyone to use just one space after a period instead of two. I’m just sayin’.

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