(My Dad came to visit when I was in pre-production and needed to block and shoot some test shots for a dramatic short film I was directing. He was thrilled to help. He was always cool like that.)
As I sat amongst strangers on The Coast Starlight, northbound to the San Francisco Bay Area to which my family resides, I stared out the window into a bed of glimmering stars, and I faced the loss of my father. He was in rehabilitation after an aneurysm burst and emergency surgery just 2 weeks earlier. He was recovering well and had recently moved to a rehabilitation facility to further his progression. All of his doctors were positive and optimistic and I had no reason to suspect anything bad.
It was, Wednesday, August 20th, 10:03pm. They said he had sudden and unexpected complications. And he passed away.
He passed away...
My Dad, Francis Derek Metz. He was 67 years old.
It’s a funny thing experiencing loss. We never really think we’re going to lose someone so close to us… And then we do. It’s not believeable. And then we feel that shock -- that furious hurricane of emotion. And it changes us.
It’s hard to imagine or believe that you’ll never have someone in your life again. As I finish my 20’s and consider my relationship with my father in his latter years… I feel like it was all just beginning to grow. Like two old friends finding each other again after a lifetime apart. Having lived, learned and grown in a world of different roads — I felt like my real time with my father, Francis Derek Metz, was just at the beginning. Instead, at 10:03pm on Wednesday, August 20th, I had to understand that it was the end.
Who was Derek Metz?
Quite simply, he was one cool dude. He thought of himself a lone wolf, for better and for worse. He lived in London, Canada and California’s north and south. He was an adventurer, a traveler, a writer, a salesman — for like 6 months he was an ‘actor’ but really, he just hung out in Hollywood with John Drew Barrymore and smoked pot. (I hope that’s not why he named me.)
He was a successful IT Head Hunter in Silicone Valley, a sports player, a believer, a storyteller, a golfer, a lover of cars and music — especially Rock and Roll, to which he was also an expert. He was a friend, a mentor and compassionate to anyone who would share the times. He drank, he smoked, he had encounters and stories with many different people. He was a complete and utter enthusiast for life. And he was like no other human being I have ever met.
He was brash, curt, fearless, confident, aggressive, sensitive, witty, sarcastic, cynical, traveled, inspirational, loving, reclusive, intelligent, afraid, funny, intimidating, sophisticated and had one of the biggest vocabularies of anyone I’ve ever met, especially having had only some college. He knew sports, literature, movies, history, culture and he was always down to hang out, party, or experience something new. Even if it was Disneyland. Even if it was some sentimental or artistic movie I wanted him to watch. Even if I asked him to consider a different point of view, or, challenged his.
He always had an opinion, he always had a perspective and he never censored himself to anyone. And he always supported me and my sister. In a time and era where our parents trusted upon us to fulfill great dreams, sometimes theirs, sometimes others’; when the whole world expected us to do something great, to be responsible, efficient, successful, wealthy, handsome, beautiful, sophisticated — all my dad expected of us, was to follow our dreams, and do so relentlessly.
I am so blessed and grateful to have been supported and unconditionally loved by Francis Derek Metz, my father. To say the absolute least, he was a god damn rolling stone and one of the most interesting and loving human beings. There was no one in the world like this guy.
Now I think about how crazy life is — how I’ve experienced the loss of two people I loved with all my heart, in less than 3 weeks time. How at the end of this weekend I am starting a new job that I am so excited and grateful to take on. How this very same weekend, a major motion picture studio inquired about my writing, and how at the very same time, with my closest friends and collaborators at RunawayVision LLC, I am developing our first feature length motion picture. How I also wrote a screenplay based on things, moments, memories, quotes, experiences and journeys related to my father. And that when I told him the story, in its purest unfiltered form.... with all the good, the bad and the ugly about our lives, our struggle and our story — he loved it... and supported me even more. It all makes me think how sweet, melancholic and ironic life is in all its grandeur and surprise. And how I feel so lucky to be given life by my mother and my father.
I leave the Bay Area now, Los Angeles bound as I type this on a bus, crossing yet another threshold in my journey. Of loss, life, and the pursuit of 'happyness', I am fearless, wondrous and completely inspired. I am motivated, ready and so very grateful. For as much as I will grieve my Dad’s death, I will also celebrate his life and the astounding gifts he has given to me and to so many other people.
I'm inspired yet again by my Dad, to take life head on. I got to laugh at him, laugh with him, and now I laugh for him.