While I was well aware that my dear college friend, Travis Dow, had been diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma earlier this year, I am still shocked and heart broken to learn that he finally lost his battle. Travis was a truly amazing person through and through, a generous soul, a stellar talent, his smile contagious- plainly put, a Good Man.
I joined Team in Training last May to raise money and awareness for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and upon learning of Travis’s diagnosis, added him to my personal list of honorees, sending him a very loud “shout out” and moment of silence before each and every run. While he was never aware of that, he was certainly always on my mind whenever our coaches would talk to us about the pain and ridiculousness that is cancer- I would think of Travis, and hope and pray for a cure.
I met Travis during my freshman year at Humboldt State University and as we were both theater majors, we traveled in the same circles, did a couple plays together, and became good friends. So funny and so very talented, anyone who came in contact with Travis was immediately drawn to him- always smiling and upbeat, he was and still IS one of the kindest people I have ever had the privilege to know.
I left Humboldt after a few years and moved to Southern California, losing touch with most of my HSU theater friends, Travis included. After I completed college at USC, I moved back home to Oakland and somehow reconnected with Travis as he had moved back to the Bay Area as well (while he wasn’t from the Bay Area, he always considered it home, and we certainly agreed on that!). At that time, around 1999 if I recall correctly, Travis was pursuing his dream of becoming a recording artist and had just released his first album, Two Bulb Twilight, with his second (I believe) band, Cal Hollow.
Since learning of his passing last night, the memories (along with lots of tears) have just been flooding in… during that time together here in Oakland, I recall so many of our talks about life and the pursuit of happiness, his goofy expressions, his snarky and hilarious comments, our mutual affection for Fenton’s ice cream, and the way he would grab his guitar spontaneously and say, “Hey, Laura, listen, I just wrote this,” then strum and sing right on into his oh so happy place.
Just like so many other college friends that move away, if it weren’t for Facebook, I doubt we would have kept in touch over this past decade as he went from Portland to Nashville then to LA- I read and “liked” over the years with awe and pride as his musical career flourished. Once I read of his diagnosis on Facebook, I would always go to his wall to see if he had posted a new Tales From The Gurney where he would often write of his battle, somehow finding the humor and positivity within.
On October 7th, Travis wrote: Been a while since I gave y’all an update on the Lymphoma Sweepstakes, so I thought I’d let you know what’s up… I had a stem cell transplant that was supposed to be the last clean out, followed by a few months of recovery. Well, it did a few of the things it was supposed to do, but the lymphoma in my right leg and and groin decided to go off the reservation again. So I got to go visit the radiation department (I’m almost able to get around City of Hope with my eyes closed now – not recommended at the sister hospital, built on the side of a cliff in Nepal, called, of course, City of Hope On A Rope – sorry).
Travis’s memorial is scheduled for November 18th and, coincidentally, I will be running a half marathon that same day for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and even though it goes with out saying, I’ll say it anyway: this one is dedicated to you, Trav.
My heart and prayers go out to Travis’s family and friends during this hard time. Travis, you are so loved, you are deeply missed, and your bravery, talent, and smile will live on in all that knew you. It is a privilege and honor to have you in my life and I am a better person for it. Rest in peace, dear friend.
To read more about Travis’s story, please click here and if you are able to make a donation- in any amount- to support his family during this difficult time, please click here. To listen to some of Travis’s music, please click here.