It’s with a heavy heart that I report the sad news that my brother, Craig Davis, passed away last night from the cumulative effects of tongue, lung, and liver cancer. He was 51 years old. Fifty fucking one. It started out, as these things often do, with a nagging cough. This was July/August of last year, so we both figured summer cold or allergies. No biggie. But, when the lymph node on the right side of Craig’s neck became hard to the touch, we knew we were up against something bigger than a cold. On November 28, the day after Thanksgiving and 3 days after his 51st birthday, he was told that he had Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma. In laymen’s terms, tongue cancer. The oncologist couldn’t believe Craig had never smoked cigarettes because the diagnosis was consistent with a lifelong smoker. In clinical terms, that’s getting dealt a bad fucking hand.
Craig endured a round each of chemo and radiation, which left him bent, but not broken. He looked OK and sounded like the same old Craig. In fact, if you would’ve asked me a month ago about his chances, I would’ve said 30-40% in favor of survival. Not great odds, but you’ll take them every time. However, it was all a mirage. Shortly after beginning his second round of chemo in late June, Craig became too tired to do much of anything, including talk on the phone. Then suddenly, he had no appetite, causing him to lose about 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Clearly, Craig’s body was shutting down and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Shit, by the end, you don’t want to stop it. You find yourself wishing for that call in the middle of the night just to end the pain, for him and for us, the loved ones left behind.
Craig was one of the most genuine people you could ever meet, an honest to God nice guy. The world is a lesser place with his passing, if only because we need as many good and genuine people on the planet as possible. It’s easy to be an asshole. Loudmouth internet tough guys are a dime a dozen. To be good takes a certain kind of effort and Craig brought that to the table everyday. His friends in downtown Huntington Beach will definitely miss him and I was surprised (and impressed) that many of them came by to see him one last time to pay their respects.
Here’s an interesting factoid about my brother. He was such a big Jimi Hendrix fan that all of his friends called him “Jimi” or “Hendrix.” I was at Perq’s often enough over the years, that out of 100 people to talk to him, maybe 1-2 called him Craig. He wore a Hendrix T every day of his life for as far back as I can remember. Seriously, he was the Chick Hearn of Jimi shirts. I felt bad at Hoag Hospital and then Sea Cliff Health Care that he had to wear a generic hospital gown. I felt like I should’ve handmade him an Axis: Bold As Love gown to keep the streak alive.
With Craig’s passing I am the lone surviving member of my immediate family. My mom died of throat cancer in 1993, my dad died from complications due to Parkinson’s in 2013 (which I wrote about in When They All Had Souls), and I had no other siblings. Craig was it. I’m the Last of the Mohicans. That’s a hell of a responsibility to have thrust upon you, but I accept it willingly. In fact, Sarah, Edie, Lucinda, and I will carry on the Davis/Uehara lineage proudly. But, the reality from my side of the fence is this: In my immediate family, 2 of 3 members didn’t make it out of their 50s due to cancer. (Mom was a month shy of her 60th birthday when she died.) As a guy on the backside of his 40s, can you blame me for wondering when that nagging cough is coming for me? Yeah yeah, I know all about “Live life to the fullest” and “Carpe diem” and “Keep on the sunny side.” But, 12 hours removed from the death of my only sibling, isn’t it perfectly fair for me to be a little wary of my own odds?
God bless you, Craig Davis. You were a great brother and I will miss you dearly. At least you get to be reunited with Mom and Dad. And you’ll finally get to see Hendrix.
A little Indian brave who before he was ten
Played war games in the woods with his Indian friends
And he built the dream that when he grew up
He would be a fearless warrior Indian chief
Many moons passed and more the dream grew strong
Until tomorrow he would sing his first war song
And fight his first battle, but something went wrong
Surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night
And so castles made of sand melts into the sea, eventually”