I am thinking of my blog brother, Michael O'Connor Clarke, a best friend I only met once, but a friend I talked to by phone, flew in Second Life with, worked with on client accounts, celebrated the birth of a child with, and wrote with online for the last 11 years. I hugged his children and amazing wife Leona when they came to visit in 2006.
Our friendship, interwoven lives painted in pixels and over wires. Every conversation was ocean deep and jarringly funny. We snorted, guffawed, and plotted revenge against arch enemies together. We brain-jammed ideas together that could change our craft forever. We were PR superheroes, digital nobility, and tip-jar street musicians all at once, because blogging was like that.
How is today any different? I see him - he's right there. He's on facebook, the same page, there in the photo, from just some months ago, or the other one, him in the crisp, white, button-down shirt, hand in hand with the kids, telling them some large tale or small instruction--we'll never know. We just know how much he loved them. So how, really, can he be gone? But he is.
Can we stop Twitter, just for a moment of silence? Can the Internet slow down to grieve? The constant roll of newsfeeds and hashtags fail to notice. In the end, we have to mean more to one another than a final post, a last tweet. This is the place I came to heal from loss, not to compound it. But we surface into one another's lives within this digital world inevitably to be pulled apart in the real one.
When Michael and I first met online, we told each other we were brother and sister separated at birth and given to different parents. Maybe not far off, born into an online family, to fight, tease, help, and sit with one another almost for real.
All along, we were tapping out SOSes one post at a time.
This much I know: We are in and out of each others lives here -- more out than in physically; more in than out in every other way.
I miss him. Already. I don't want him to be gone.
And I want his children to know that we are loosely-joined family. As Michael would do for me, I want to tell his children this. If ever Charlie, Lily, Ruairi, you want to know what I loved about your dad, you want a place to stay when you're older and decide to visit Atlanta, you want help with a term paper, you want a ride, you want me to beat up a bully, you want something I can offer, know that your father was my brother, and I am here for you.
Leona, for you I weep today, and tomorrow I will smile remembering how he talked about you, how very much he loved you; you were and are and always will be his joy.
And I will remember his wit, his humor, his rough voice over the phone walking through cold Toronto mornings as we talked about clients, kids, and the next great idea.
Good bye my brother. Too soon.