“I don’t know how many best friends you can have.”
If that quote isn’t a true measure of a man, I don’t know what is.
The young man featured prominently in the photo collage above is Reid Davidson. The former Vancouver Island University soccer standout had the world at his feet. Just 24, he had a job as an administrative lead for Nanaimo United FC. University graduate, working at a job that featured one of his passions, a lovely girlfriend, loving family and more friends than you can count.
Then, in a flash, worlds were turned upside down.
On the evening of July 19, Reid’s car was struck on the Nanaimo Parkway by a minivan travelling in the wrong direction. Nanaimo RCMP indicated in initial reports that investigators believe alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the crash, as there were reports of the van being driven erratically and police were looking to locate and stop the vehicle. After the collision, the minivan driver fled on foot and was located after RCMP Police Dog Services were called in.
To date, no charges have been laid, as the investigation continues.
Reid did not survive the crash.
I’ve known Reid’s dad Mike since we were kids and friends growing up together in Duncan. He moved to 100 Mile House to continue his teaching career, married his wonderful wife Lisa and together they did a remarkable job raising Reid and his sister Lydia.
I haven’t seen Mike in person for a few years now, but kept up via social media and when we did talk, slipped comfortably back into familiar roles and lexicon, poking fun at each other’s favourite hockey teams and recalling past glory.
In the aftermath of Reid’s death, I still don’t have the right words. I wish I did. With a son approximately the same age, I can’t imagine the nightmare. Like many, many others, I ache for the family. So tragic. So senseless. So unfair.
Mike and Lisa had recently moved to a new home in Kamloops to enjoy retirement. They were just heading to bed on the Wednesday night when they got the news no parent should ever receive.
“It was about 11 at night,” he said. “There was a phone call from (Reid’s girlfriend) Georgia’s mom (in Ladysmith). Lisa answered and I could see from her expression something was wrong.”
Reid was on the road heading home, after attending a birthday party for Georgia’s young nephew.
“Just the kind of stuff he would do,” said his dad.
Later that night, police called and explained the investigative process may take some time.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind. Mike said it doesn’t seem real and the family is taking things one day at a time, comforted by a massive outpouring of love and support and the knowledge Reid meant so much to so many.
“It’s helped a lot,” he said. “We’ve been hearing from people every day for the last week, constantly getting messages from everyone. So many people trying to be supportive of us. The maturity level of the kids that age, Reid’s friends, just blows me away. Saying the right things, doing the right things. I’ve been skeptical lately on the future of this world and some of the things I’ve seen coming up but when we met many of his friends over the last while, we realize not only that he had quality friends – many more recent, some since youth – but these are just mature, good people. The hospital visiting room was filled with longtime friends, as well as most of the Harbourside women’s soccer team, and many others. These wonderful friends give me more hope for the future, for sure.”
While understandably angry (“we’ve run through all the emotions”), Mike said they are choosing to focus on the good.
“Hopefully justice will be served,” he said. “But we are not going to give our time and energy to this person. Rather we want to focus on the positive memories and think of all the lives Reid touched. There is already too much hate in the world, we’d rather focus on the positive. We know Reid was a good person, obviously, but had no idea how many lives he impacted in a positive way, until we arrived on the Island after hearing about the accident, meeting all the people and seeing all the posts on social media of people reaching out. It’s quite surreal. We raised a really special person.”
They did indeed.
Mike said he heard from many devastated young people, a large number of whom told him Reid was their best friend.
“So many best friends,” said Mike. “I don’t know how many best friends you can have.”
Asked about fond memories that immediately sprang to mind, Mike said “there are so many” but one did stand out.
“We were so happy when our kids graduated from university,” he said. “Lisa took Lydia on a mother-daughter celebration trip. So I promised Reid we’d go to Vegas for his graduation. But COVID hit for a couple of years and then last year we didn’t get the chance. But this spring break, we got our trip in. Did all kinds of great things. Every day was just amazing.”
There will be two celebration of life ceremonies for Reid.
The first, said Mike, will be Aug. 12 (1:30 p.m.) at Thompson Rivers University Grand Hall (Campus Activity Centre) in Kamloops. The second will be Aug. 26 (1 p.m.) in Nanaimo at VIU gymnasium. Everyone is welcome.
I hope the facilities are big enough.