Growing up, I was the oldest of four children…three of them boys. Like most boys my age, I looked up to lots of people…superheroes, star athletes, coaches, the usual. But I can say with absolute conviction that I only had one true hero. One person that I looked up to more than anyone in the world. He was the strongest, coolest, smartest man on this planet…and he was my dad.
Then, when I was 11 years old, my superman met his kryptonite.
My dad, my hero, my best friend, had Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS.
The prognosis was grim. They gave him two to three years. He was 32. I was 11.
The next three years were an insane mixture of amazingly positive experiences and profound loss. If you’re not familiar with this disease, it essentially degenerates all of the body’s muscle tissue, while leaving the mind intact. It was awful to watch my Dad quite literally waste away. If you’ve seen the movie “A Theory of Everything” about Stephen Hawking...it’s incredibly accurate. Except, in 99% of patients, the disease never stops, and life is very short.
While I know it’s a little cliché, my Dad truly made the most of this time. I saw him do some amazing things in those three years…but it was something that I had no idea he was doing, that would save me…save my family…and ultimately result in the creation of EverPresent.
Soon after he came to the realization that he was not going to be here for so many of the important moments in our lives, my dad took to writing. He typed until he could no longer use his fingers, then he typed by striking one key at a time with the eraser end of pencils. He did that until he couldn’t lift his arms…then he typed using mechanical arms. When he couldn’t do that anymore, he typed using a rudimentary voice recognition software. When he could no longer speak, his nurse typed for him by reading his lips. He wrote until there was no possible way for him to write anymore.
My dad wasn’t writing a book, or telling his life story. He was writing letters for all the people he loved. Not letters to be sent now, but letters for them to read after he had passed away. And not only did he write letters that he hoped would ease the pain of his passing, he wrote letters for all the important moments that we had yet to experience in our lives, because he knew he wouldn’t be there.
My dad died when I was 14 years old. It was one of the hardest days of my life. But as I sat in my living room, trying to process never seeing him again, my mom handed me a manila envelope. It was the first letter from my dad. In the only way he could, he was there to help me through that day.
A few days later, when hundreds of people gathered for my dad’s funeral, he was there again, letter number two.
Four years later, when I graduated high school, my dad was there…letter number three.
Four more years later, when I married the love of my life, he was with me…number four.
When I graduated college…when each of my children were born…when I reached a crossroad in life and needed his advice…he was always there. I’m 40 years old now, and I opened another letter just last year. More than 25 years after his death, my dad is still an active part of my life…amazing!
My dad used letters to extend his presence in our lives, well beyond his actual lifetime. And having experienced it first hand, I can tell you that it worked. Rather than losing some of the joy in the most important moments of my life, because I was missing my dad, he found a way to be there for me…for all of us.
My whole life, I’ve wanted to find a way for everyone to experience this extended presence of their lost loved ones. Now I have. And I couldn’t be more excited to offer it to you…welcome to EverPresent!