Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Remembering Jared Davis

It was a few months ago that I lost a good friend to cancer. He was thrust back into my thoughts during staff selection weekend when, during an interview, a cadet told me in so many words that it was Jared who inspired him to choose the job for which he was applying. You will forgive me, I hope, if the following uses too much CAP/military terminology.

When I walked through the door on my first actual visit to Skagit Squadron, Jared Davis was standing across the room, caught my eye immediately, and strode forward to welcome me and show me a few ropes. He was always the stand-out cadet who loved acting a part which belied his slight Asian frame and smiling face.

I was in Bravo flight, he in Alpha, but I can recall times when my flight staff would "steal" Jared to help balance out the cadets with two left feet during drill... Then his flight sergeant would come storming over to reclaim his star cadet and reprove us for such thievery!

While a teenager with higher than average "smile-miles," he also hid an almost fiendish skill when it came to drill-sergeant ability! At encampments, it was an accomplishment to be proud of if you were successful in keeping your composure during one of his composure-cracking sessions. I won't even go into the methodology he employed! I can remember one occasion when he returned from vacation a little puzzled. He had visited a squadron in another state and had the chance to drill their cadets the night he was there. He just "did his usual thing" and some of them up and started crying on him (much to his shock). Yes, he was a guy who had a way of leaving his mark on people.

The only thing he loved better than big dangerous toys was designing better versions of big dangerous toys! I remember him showing off his results from pyrotechnic experimentation--a burned out model car. I remember his designs for futuristic weapons and him explaining the science behind each one. I remember listening to him scoff at the simplicity of building a small nuclear bomb.

With highschool came cross-country running, JROTC, Running Start and numerous activities besides CAP. No one expected him to continue in any of these for as long as he did after we first heard the news.

The first tumor he had was in his leg. After a year of fighting that and gaining the road to recovery, the doctors discovered that it had spread to his lungs. That was hard to take when I first heard it from his own mouth. He didn't mince words, just told us what was up and that was that. He had such an unshakable faith in God's will, though, he never came close to discouragement that we could see. That's not to say that he didn't change in those two years he had cancer. On the contrary, Jared did all the growing-up he could fit in. Throughout the time I knew him, he was a person who didn't need words to share his faith. As his condition worsened, his witness just increased.

He attended every summer encampment he had the chance to attend--last year he helped us on the Public Affairs staff while he was in the later stages of his lung cancer. When I look back on what he went through just to keep on living life the way he knew how--the struggle to simply get his boots on, the mornings when he couldn't drag himself out of bed till late in the morning, the scorn of some who didn't know him or understand what he was going through, the trips to the hospital every three days just so the doctors could keep tabs on him--I would be amazed at the things he would still accomplish. If a key needed to be returned to Admin he would be the first to volunteer! If a line of pictures were due and there was a shortage of people to do the job, he was there! He knew what he was doing and people could feel it.

He sent out an email to all his friend the week he died... It was a powerful testimony to the calm he exhibited even as each operation took more and more of his lungs away just to save his body for a little bit longer. One of the last lines was:

...So my future looks pretty grim and I am having to make some plans just in case, but I'm not giving up hope yet. Life is still good...hard but good.

Just five days later on 11 January, 2004, the Lord took him. He was 17 years-old.

Few will forget him who knew him. It was just this spring, during the wing(state) conference general session, when the director of cadet programs said to the entire wing that Jared had taught her more about God than any person she had met...

And I think that sums up the way Jared's friends felt about him.
<< Home 1 Comments:
Blogger SarahJane said...

Mark, this is one of the most impacting things I have read in a very long time. Thank you for writing such an eloquent tribute to Jared. It makes me wish that I knew this young man because I think I would have quite felt that I was in the presence of the Lord.

12:01 AM, June 27, 2004  

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