In Memory of Jim Cannon: Celebrating a Blogger’s Life and His Savior

Earlier this week brought the sad news that my friend Jim Cannon, one of the founding members of the Rocky Mountain Alliance, had passed into eternity. Many tributes have been written.

Yesterday was Jim’s memorial service. The family asked me to share a few words about Jim on behalf of the bloggers. Here it is (with links added, where appropriate):

I had the privilege of first meeting Jim in 2004 when I ventured into this strange and interesting world of blogging. Jim and his dad Guy were two of the first local Denver bloggers I “met” online. They soon welcomed me in as a member of the Rocky Mountain Alliance of conservative blogs. I hope the other members of the Alliance can attest to many of the things I’ll share.

What developed was a friendship. A real camaraderie among all the guys in the Alliance grew. But getting to know Jim created a special bond between us. I learned a little bit about blogging from him, but I also learned much more of greater importance.

We all know about the rough times Jim faced. Jim demonstrated a courageous and indomitable spirit. I saw him bounce back over and over.

Despite all the earthly reason for him to do so, Jim never used the times we talked or visited to obsess over his condition or to dwell on complaints. When we weren’t talking about blogging or our mutual blogger friends, he always wanted to know how my wife, and later my two girls, were doing. He told me many times how blessed I was, and the reminders were genuinely uplifting. Whenever I visited Jim in the hospital or the rehab center, I left wondering who had been encouraged more by the encounter.

Jim had a terrific sense of humor, and could laugh as heartily as anyone I know. And it truly made me smile to see it. Yet he was also endowed with the gift to cut to the serious heart of a situation and speak clearly about what really mattered. He rarely let me dwell for long on the trite things we too often and too easily consume ourselves with, and for that I am truly grateful.

Back to the blog: Jim was passionate in the topics he wrote about, and he was a proud and staunch defender of our military men and women in uniform. Not just in the supportive words he posted on the Internet. He used his blog to raise awareness and support for charitable groups that benefit the troops, groups like Soldiers’ Angels. On more than one occasion he would learn of a specific situation of distress affecting a family of someone in uniform, and he sent out the alarm to help. It’s hard to forget Jim’s efforts to organize letter-writing campaigns to our military servicemen on duty overseas in dangerous situations. His concern and his active outreach inspired me to take time to write soldiers and sailors I’d never met, and express gratitude to them directly. I doubt I would have done so otherwise.

Jim’s compassion wasn’t limited to our military personnel. When the horrible tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean four years ago, it was Jim who took the initiative to organize the Rocky Mountain Alliance to help raise funds for the thousands of victims. This is just one example of his selfless, generous spirit.

The sad and tragic case of Terri Schiavo, though, struck a deeper chord with Jim. As someone who himself had been in a coma and had been on a feeding tube, he spoke out passionately in her defense. He wrote:

“What do I know about feeding tubes and euthanasia? For one, I had a feeding tube. I also know what it’s like to be trapped in a body when nobody knows if your there or not mentally. I can’t imagine being starved to death via feeding tube and not being able to let anyone know you want to live….

“What to do? I’m not sure there’s anything we can do. I plan on making my voice heard. I will call my congressman, I will call the Florida Governors office, and I will continue to speak out about Terri’s fight until the day she dies.”

And he did speak out. It wasn’t many weeks before Terri Schiavo indeed passed on. I therefore thought it fitting to end with words Jim wrote on his blog on April 1, 2005, shortly after the news of her death came out:

“To Terri’s family; I can’t begin to imagine the pain you feel right now. I pray though that you will have peace in knowing that your daughter is in a new body. She no longer feels the pain of hunger. She no longer feels the pain and confusion of being in a body that has betrayed her. I pray that God will watch over you and comfort you in this time of sorrow.”

Fitting words, for we know that Jim too today is in a new body. Jim no longer feels pain. Compassion and encouragement are two of the legacies Jim has left, and they are tributes to the Savior with whom He now rests in peace.

In memory of Jim Cannon (December 21, 1974 – December 15, 2008)

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