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.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Except this was no accident, and evidently more than one âpersonâ 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, didnât count on my best friend crawling out of their remotely triggered, C-4 explosive, man-made hell on Earth.
They didnât 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. Itâs good for the soul.
As I said, Rickâs my best friend and there are things I think you might like to know about him. These are simple things about Rickâs life that you normally wouldnât 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 70âs, early 80âs 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 authorsâ 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 shouldnât 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, Iâm happy he made it out alive. Thereâs no doubt he was lucky. So many others didnât. 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 isnât quite here. I miss my turnoff when driving. Iâm working and suddenly I realize Iâve stopped and Iâm just sitting there staring at the screen. Iâm 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 âJasperâ 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 donât 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 wonât say, âAll the way up there? Are you nuts?â Or âSorry, Iâve got stuff I should get done today.â Iâll lace up my boots, strap on my own backpack, and answer the call of the wild with him.
Rick will be back. Heâs 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 heâs ever had to climb. But I do believe heâll be back. And Iâll 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.