Follow the Gleam, Brian
A Remembrance of Brian Morden AKA *Ar-Isildur of *WP*
Brian Morden AKA *Ar-Isildur of *WP*, died today, February 15, 2003, at 5:55 AM, after a protracted three year battle with Ewings Sarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that targets young people. He was surrounded by his friends, family, and his dog, Ali.
Although I did not know him well, I still considered him my friend. The world is a lesser place now due to his passing.
I asked the Disembodied Soul today, "Who is Brian Morden?"
The Soul answered, "That question has many answers."
I wish I knew the more of the answers to that question, then. I have very little to go by. Still, from what I've seen, Brain was an exceptional person.
My first encounter with Brian was somewhere on BungieNet in a Clan Plaid hosted game in 1999. Brian was a good player and an honorable opponent. (Oh, and he pwned me.)
The next time I ran into him was in mid-2001. He spent a fair amount of time on the forum at Halo.Bungie.Org telling the nay-sayers that Halo was going to be the best thing since sliced bread. He talked about his impressions when he played a pre-release version of the game at Bungie's offices. It wasn't until a year later did I find out why he was at Bungie's offices in the first place.
Brian was always an enlightened Bungie fan. When people would post messages bashing Halo or Bungie he was right there with the facts and would tell people - politely - everything he could about the game. He never flamed idiots and he had a sense of humor about things:
: ...all them nifty features that were gonna be on the PC version are gone,
: maybe even some we didn't even know about. thanks M$
: and bungie u sold out by lettin M$ boss u around like that. i guess theres
: more money in being the flagship game for the Xbox.
What the hell are you smoking? Crack isn't nearly strong enough to produce such an idiotic statement.
In the months that followed Brian kept right on posting in defense of the Bungie Cause. As the date of Halo's release approached he kept a countdown going with other forum regulars:
I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!
HALO COMES OUT TOMORROW!!
I LOVE YOU ALL!!! :)))
Can you imagine how Brian felt? He had played Halo before any of us and because he signed a non-disclosure he couldn't talk about it. Now the cork was coming off the bottle!
Brian spent the days following the release of Halo trading gameplay stories. Oh, and of course, there was a new crusade: refuting the nay-sayers who said Halo would never come out for Macs or PCs.
At one point, for nearly 14 days, he posted almost entirely in haiku:
The Selected Haikus of *Ar-Isildur of *WP*
A nintendo fan,
Funny you mention,
Look! Four syllables!
I meant no offense.
PLEASE NO MORE TORTURE!
That sounds familiar.
Hey, it's Cunbelin!
Hordes of shrieking grunts.
About this time I heard about his end-of-chemo party. Everyone who attended had a great time. I thought to myself, "oh, Isildur, had cancer, now he's better. Well, good for him." I continued to treat Brian just like he was one of the regulars - i.e. undestructable. We traded posts. We argued about inconsequential plot points. We laughed at his humorous post about his Senior Prom.
At one point, he deplored the HTML skills of many posters on the forum that he wrote a beginner's guide to using HTML called *Ar's Simple Guide to Simple HTML for Simple People. Almost 1,000 page views to date - so it must be helping.
His good spirits continued to make the forum an interesting place to while away the hours. His hilarious Halo: Fall of Reach book report is a classic.
Then, on Christmas 2002, he just dropped out of sight. I didn't think it was anything ominous; people drop in and out of forums all the time. It wasn't until SilverBrin updated us with news of his relapse that I realized anything was wrong. Once the word was out that Brian was not feeling well, we mobilized to let him know how much we cared. Regulars and lurkers alike sent cards, emails, and even contributed money.
On January 25, 2003, he rallied enough that he could post to the forum:
...to date i have received some 200+ emails and cards. your <3 and support has been absolutely overwhelming. i don't know what to say except thank you ... all of you.
as for my health, well, generally it's improving but my future is still very uncertain. i still can't walk or move about on my own easily, so i'm still in the hospital.
i'll go into more detail later, but i'm quite tired. i just wanted to drop a line. thanks and <3 to you all!
I was happy when he posted. This was A Good Sign.
It was also at this time I finally made the connection that Brian Morden was the Brian Morden listed in the credits in Halo. This, in turn, led me to discover the web page a family friend, Betsy Bryce, had on her site about Brian's visit to Bungie courtesy of the Make A Wish foundation. (Go to this page Right Now and read it if you haven't seen it before. Also, a partially completed account of his trip can be found here.)
The story blew me away. All sorts of emotions assailed me when I read it. Admiration - for Bungie's contribution. Jealousy - because Brian actually got to play in Bungie's offices! Amazement - I had heard of the Make a Wish Foundation, but I never knew they actually do cool stuff! More jealousy - because he got to be the voice of the Dropship Passenger ("The Autumn! She's been hit!"). Sadness - because ...well, just because.
A few weeks passed without hearing about Brian. We had our collective fingers crossed. On February 13, 2003, SilverBrin posted more sad news. Bungie (you guys rock - cubed) rushed a care package to him which included some exclusive footage of Halo 2. We were holding our breath for a miracle to happen.
This morning Miguel sent me the heart-breaking news that Brian had died. Shortly thereafter, his little brother, Jamin, posted on the HBO forum:
Just remember guys, that before he died, he was thinking about all of you, and wanted to post here again, if only to say goodbye and tell you how much you meant to him.
I grieve. The forum fills with thoughts of Brian. We all grieve.
I only got to see the tip of the iceberg that was Brian. From what I saw he exhibited all the qualities of a mythic hero: Courage, humor, perseverance, forgiveness, love of life, love for his brother, and peace of mind. My life has been enriched by his presence and I know that there is a spark of him inside me that I will use to touch others who never knew him.
Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight,
Not of the starlight!
O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow The Gleam.
Merlin and the Gleam
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Question: Who was Brian Morden?
The soul says: Stop asking me questions. Run along. Life's wasted on the living, I always say.