I’m thinking hard about what I want to say to the web’s great giver, Michael O’Connor Clarke, who’s in the hospital being treated for esophageal cancer, an especially cruel flavour of that toxic affliction. If you’ve heard of HoHoTo. there’s a decent chance that it’s through Michael’s indefatigable publicity and support-raising activity on their behalf. He’s been making his family and friends and sometimes the whole internet laugh, come what may. Remember when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes? Michael’s heart started out twice as big as that, and hasn’t stopped growing.
Kids, a long, long time ago (almost a century ago in what we used to call ‘internet years’) Michael was part of a particular eddy in the big river of Blogaria. We all used to blog together, link to one another (’cos back then, ‘comments’ were not an integral part of blogging platforms, believe it or not), tease one another, argue, fall out, say some harsh things (why else would Chris have invented the word ‘f*cknozzle’?), get back together, anticipate children and celebrate their births, and socialise in geospace as much as we could. Michael gave so much to those days, to his friends who managed to meet up with him — if you assayed the goodwill of the blogging web ten years ago, you’d have found that a measurable percentage of the precipitate was Michael’s.
Esophageal cancer is nasty stuff. If you have known Michael, benefited from his wisdom or generosity or wit, or if you just care that noble spirits not be ignored in a heedless, partisan, manipulative generation, please find a way to give back. Doc’s on the case; so is David, and Elaine, and Euan, and Frank and Jeneane have been keeping lines of communication open behind the scenes.
This is what I want to say, maybe not well enough, but I’m not well-composed when I think about Michael and Leona and the kids: Cancer is bad news, serious bad news, and I’m sending all the support I can to Michael’s doctors (and Xeni’s, and our friends Everly and Siobhàn and Katy’s and Bob’s). And whatever can strengthen Michael in spirit and flesh, I’m on board for that, one hundred percent. But no one here gets out live, and cancer is near the top of the list of the reasons. But for a long time, I’ve resisted casting cancer treatment as a ‘fight’, because in the long run we all wear out, gradually or catastrophically; if mortality is a fight against death, then it’s a fight none of us can win, and I refuse to accept those odds.
Michael is already a winner, a bigger winner than ’most anyone I know, and he will always be. We have a job to do, now, of holding him and his dear ones tight in an embrace, a solidarity, a real, effectual net woven by our caring and our love — but we can’t lose sight of the real goal, to which Michael gives so much time and energy. We have to build out the network of our effectual love and caring till it avails not just for people we know first-hand, but reaches even to strangers and eventually even to f*cknozzles, because none of us can stand alone against all the forces of corruption and exploitation and violence. Michael’s drawing Toronto further toward that, contributing his skills and resources and energy to the Daily Bread Food Bank; by all means let’s rally to Michael’s side, show him our respect and solidarity, and by sharing in his spirit of generosity and love, share with him in winning something vast and vital and imperishable, something that cancer can’t touch. Help Michael and his family. Make someone laugh; feed someone; give a hand to someone who needs a boost; find a way to hire someone; knit us all together more kindly, more securely. That’s the win; that’s what I have to say for Michael: a champion, an unbeatable champion.