A new article in the Vancouver Sun this morning (thanks to Chris Domitter and Derek Adams). Also in the Sun, a piece about Rick from Simon Crum, a great and good friend of Rick’s that, being an expat and away from home for so long, I haven’t even met yet. Simon’s kindly permitted me to reproduce the article here in toto.

As you read this, 38 year old Canadian Rick Gleason lies unconscious in the ICU burn unit of a hospital in Melbourne, Australia after the Bali nightclub he was dancing in exploded in a torrent of heat and flame around him. He breathes because a machine breathes for him. His condition is “stable but critical”. He suffers from burns covering 45% of his body. His heart is traumatized and there is the constant risk of stroke. Or infection. Or just plain giving up. But he is alive.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Except this was no accident, and evidently more than one “person” out there thinks Rick and the other 500 or so people like him (187 dead, 300 wounded) were at exactly the right place at exactly the right time. The terrorists, whose membership to the human race I hereby revoke, didn’t count on my best friend crawling out of their remotely triggered, C-4 explosive, man-made hell on Earth.
They didn’t count on me writing about him, or you reading about him either. After all, every day should include a little act of defiance in the face of terrorism. It’s good for the soul.
As I said, Rick’s my best friend and there are things I think you might like to know about him. These are simple things about Rick’s life that you normally wouldn’t consider important. But, nevertheless, they are things you would never get to know if the terrorists had succeeded.
He calls Vancouver, Canada home.
He reads Jack London. Kerouac. Hermann Hesse. Hemingway.
He loves Cuban cigars, French Pastis, Canadian micro-brewed beer, and pretty much every woman he ever met regardless of nationality.
He has a refined sense of humour which perhaps too often relies upon obscure references to late 70’s, early 80’s TV shows and commercials.
He is a card carrying member of that humble tribe of backpacking kindhearted story-telling Canadians that spread themselves around the world youth hostel by youth hostel. Canada has no better ambassadors.
And because the same spirit of adventure that once flowed through his favourite authors’ veins flows through his too, he heard the call of the wild time and time again.
If you ever hiked around Western Canada, you probably crossed his path: Five foot ten, blonde haired, blue eyed, good looking guy with a spring in his step, a goofy smile on his face, and a large well worn backpack complete with Canadian flag pulling on his shoulders.
His next adventure was supposed to be Mexico, but a cheap ticket to Bali changed his plans at the last minute. This call he shouldn’t have answered. But how was he supposed to know? How could anyone have guessed that the next victims on the list were people like he, fun loving backpacking adventurers, rather than stockbrokers, military personnel, or government officials?
Of course, I’m happy he made it out alive. There’s no doubt he was lucky. So many others didn’t. My heart breaks for them, for their loved ones who miss them so much. Their loss is beyond what words can describe. As it is, I spend my days in a state of dulled perception as if all of me isn’t quite here. I miss my turnoff when driving. I’m working and suddenly I realize I’ve stopped and I’m just sitting there staring at the screen. I’m balanced on the edge of tears and one thought, one image can push me over. Like looking North to the mountains he hiked. My two year old daughter hugs the stuffed wolf named “Jasper” that Rick bought her, wonders why my wife and I sob watching her, starts to cry herself only because she senses our sadness, and passes us Jasper to make us feel better.
Honestly, I don’t even have any emotion left to consciously hate those who set the bomb. Hate takes effort and all my effort is spent on hoping the best for Rick, sending him good vibes; praying if you will.
I want him well and I want him back here. In Vancouver. In Canada. Windsurfing off Jericho beach. Sitting at the bar at the Railway Club. Smoking cigars on the front porch with Randy, talking about old Beachcomber episodes. And this time when he says lets go hiking up Black Tusk, I promise I won’t say, “All the way up there? Are you nuts?” Or “Sorry, I’ve got stuff I should get done today.” I’ll lace up my boots, strap on my own backpack, and answer the call of the wild with him.
Rick will be back. He’s fighting now on the other side of the globe, and once he regains consciousness, the trail back to recovery might be one of the steepest he’s ever had to climb. But I do believe he’ll be back. And I’ll do everything I can to help my best friend.
Donations to a fund to help defray the costs for Rick’s hospitalization and recovery can be sent to: Brian L. Morris, in trust for Rick Gleason c/o Bank of Montreal, 111 Main Street, P.O. Box 4400 Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 3T5, (Transit #0998). Or, walk into any Bank of Montreal in Canada, and donate to the “Brian Morris in trust for Rick Gleason in Whitehorse” account. Mr. Morris, a lawyer, is in charge of the trust for the Gleason family who live in Whitehorse.
© Simon Crum, 2002. Not to be reproduced without express written permission.

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Hang in there Rick – our thoughts and prayers are with you …though the Shaftburys and Mooseheads will stay with me ….
    Very best wishes from California –

  2. Rick sounds like such a terrific guy. With a lot of wonderful friends.
    He also sounds a fighter, which is going to work for him now.
    BTW, Missouri sends best wishes to Rick, family, and friends.

  3. Simon, you have written a great piece.
    I will see Rick this afternoon and if I can I will whisper in his ear that you there for him. I hope he hears you.

  4. More bad news from this morning’s Age…
    We will update later.

  5. Dammit. Hang in there, Rick – we’re all pulling for you – people all over this blue world. And you too, Chris.

  6. Damn. Damn.
    Hold on Rick. Hang in Chris, Barry, and all of Rick’s family and friends.

  7. Once again, God Bless Australia. I keep reading about Rick and I feel a sense of numbness. I can’t believe one of the most fun-loving people I know was a victim of this horrible act. I know Rick will pull through this. He’s one of my closest friends and I will be seeing him again – he’ll be wearing his backpack and convincing me to go out for a few beers. This I know to be true….

  8. Aaron and I have just come back from the hospital. I feel much more encouraged after seeing Rick and talking to his nurse this morning. He is in very much the same condition as yesterday and although he is still extremely unwell, it is encouraging that he has not deteriorated further.
    I fly home this evening but will be back to see Rick just as soon as he improves a bit.

  9. Thank you Skip it is nice to hear something encouraging!
    Hang in there Rick!!

  10. I had a very strong and totally irrational feeling this morning that Rick had turned a corner of some kind, for the better, very different from the feelings of fear and anguish that I woke up with the last couple of mornings. I know my fanciful intuition is foolish, and perhaps little better than wishful thinking, but even though it’s clear he is in a very dangerous place at the moment, your news about Rick is encouraging and very welcome, Skip, and helps to keep positive and hopeful.
    Thanks, and thank you for being on the scene for us.

  11. And Aaron, too, of course. You’ve both been the proxies for many of us, down there in Melbourne over the last week, and that’s been a big burden, and thank you again for bearing it.

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