It will always mean the world to me that Derek was the first on in our family to hold our son Aiden. This picture is so incredibly dear to my heart.
As we stood around Derek’s grave tonight remembering his birth and still in sorrow over his death, I was reminded of so many things that I miss about Derek. So many things that I will never get back. At the same time however, I was reminded of one thing that not even death can take from me.
Derek challenged me. It was at the heart of his nature to push, to challenge, to provoke. I remember one of the first times I was exposed to Derek’s innate ability to challenge. I had just returned from a self-defense/restraint class that I had taken as part of my training for my job as a conselor at a juvenile detention facility. I was sharing with John the things that I had learned, and this punk kid, little brother of his (then 16, I think), pipes in, “You couldn’t take me.” I gave him the look and said, “Go for it.” A few seconds later I had him face down on the carpet. It was at that point that Derek quit trying to scare me off and decided I was good enough for his big brother, John.
Over the years, Derek challenged me time and time again. Sometimes it was over something as trivial as a game. He hated to lose. But I even learned how to beat him while losing. I learned to pretend it didn’t bother me. That bugged him even more than losing did! More often though, his challenges came to me over much deeper things, issues of the heart.
Derek left this world with a challenge to me and to everyone who knew him. The challenge is this. How will you live your life in this age? What will you pour your heart and soul into so that in the end you will hear, “Well done.”?
As I sat at the grave tonight, I looked around at the beautiful faces that represented the love and passion that Derek had poured out in this life, I was challenged once again. I want to walk out true religion in this life. I want to have the kind of impact that only comes through love poured out freely.
Derek remains my challenger. I love you for pushing the envelope, for breaking the mold, and for always dreaming big.