Just clearing out the family e-mail account that has tons of old messages from various things I’ve signed up for over the years when I found a series of e-mails from Virginia-based singer-songwriter, david m bailey. I first saw david play at an event for people living with cancer about eight years ago – he’s kind of a cross of old Cat Stevens and Jim Croce but very heavy on the inspiration he draws from 12 years of living with cancer.
The son of Presbyterian missionaries Dr Ken and Ethel Bailey, david spent his childhood in Beirut, Lebanon. He learned his first chords in 7th grade, went on to study classical guitar then soon after began writing his own songs, a passion he would nourish for years to come. The Lebanese civil war forced him to complete high school at a boarding school in Germany (BFA Academy). He spent weekends as a street musician and formed a small ensemble that toured in churches behind the Iron Curtain and Central Europe. In college, he played extensively in an original acoustic duo, but then put his guitar away and entered corporate America. Ten years later, doctors told david he had a malignant brain tumor and would be dead in a few months. david left his corporate job and returned to his first love of songwriting and performing. Over a lifetime, he has shared his hope and music with thousands of listeners: Now a 12 year survivor with 18 albums to his name and performances in 21 countries and 44 states, david and his music continue to challenge us all to find faith and treasure the beauty of each new day.
Strong melodies and intricate finger picking help deliver keen, witty and insightful lyrics about 3 of his favorite themes: faith, hope, & love, Hailed by one reviewer as a “prophet with a guitar, ” david’s voice is one that resonates with surprising depth and clarity among audiences of all ages – kids, their parents and their parent’s parents enjoy the same concert!. His story has been featured on CBS News/48 Hours, 60 Minutes, NPR, Presbyterians Today, and dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country. While spending most of his time in his own niche of church and medical venues, he does step out into a wide variety of other venues including youth conferences (Montreat, NWMC), retreats, seminaries (Pittsburgh, Louisville), colleges, corporate events & more. In May 2003, he won the prestigious Kerrville NewFolk songwriting competition and has since shared the stage with many others. From Beirut to Budapest, from Pittsburgh to Portland, and on hundreds of stages in between, he has inspired and entertained thousands of listeners and maintains a relentless tour schedule year round.
When not on the road, david spends his time at home in Charlottesville VA with his greatest joys: his amazing wife, Leslie and 2 terrific teenage children, Kelcey & Cameron
This came in on 18 November:
hi gang. had some troubles lately… mri this morning showed 8cm cyst
full of fluid putting pressure on brain., it’s gotta go – like,
immeditely. so, fmily is driving m o duke toniht. surgey scheduled
fo thursday. shoul dbd no big deal, but i is a cranioomy. yuck.
Sadly, david announced on Thanksgiving that the diagnosis is glioblastoma multiforme, GBM or simply glioblastoma, the most common and unfortunately most aggressive of brain cancers, and one david survived 12 years ago.
I’m among about 3,000 people who received this note on Friday:
Hello dear friends. Hard to believe it’s been a week since first waking up in ICU with my new scar; and what a week it has been. This is the first day I’ve started to feel human. First of all, I forgothow much brain surgery really bites. Nothing fun about it at all. The painfully slow recovery process and the news of the diagnosis brought new ever darker fears that pulled me into depths I’d never contemplated. Couple this with emotions that would explode so suddenly in response to anything from a memory to a dream to a simple act of kindness and it has been exhausting. I am so sorry I have not been able to respond to each of your kind messages of support — I do want you to know I have read every one of them and together you have truly sustained me. A few thoughts:
1 – I did the ‘it’s not fair!’ thing but that got old really fast and ended quickly. Of course it’s not fair. It’s also not fair that I already survived over 12 years when so many others have not. And so on.
2 — I did the “I can’t do this again!’ thing but that mindset also had to end with a resolute conclusion that it’s not a matter of can or can’t. And way before you can even begin to think about mind over
matter, you first have to tackle spirit over mind.
3 – When this first happened in 1996 I was unprepared for the multiple levels of healing needed or the bucket of new tools needed for the new journey. This time I’m a wee bit wiser — and for sure, with that wisdom comes some anticipatory dread but also, eventually, slowly, so very slowly, tiny glimmers of hope make their way through the dark. So many of you have been those glimmers to me, reminding me often in my own words things I know are true but still need to rediscover in a new way.
4 — part of my dismay has been a humbling sense of awareness that so many have found a measure of hope in my last dozen years that to some degree I’d become a symbol of what is possible — a humbling role, but also a sometimes heavy mantel. Well, here’s the scoop. To myself, my family, friends, and fans I make this pledge: I will do as I have passionately pleaded with you to do in thousands of performances:
**I will not ask ‘why me?’ I will only ask ‘what now?’
**I will practice loving the time. All the time
**I will insist that the message of hope still never grows old.
**I will endeavor to share that hope; even when I don’t feel it
** I will remain aware that there are always others walking a harder road than I
** I will cling to the simple truth that “Life Goes On’
** I will whisper with conviction the angels’ call to ‘Do Not Be Afraid”
** with the love you have already so freely shared, I will know that I am not alone
** I will keep on walking as long as I am able and God willing, should the sun come up I will shout hallelujah for one. more. day. Then make coffee.
I don’t know what is waiting but I’m on my way to meeting it. Thank you for joining me on the journey.
All my love. david
I’ve now just gone back and looked at his other messages over the last few days – this was his closing on Thanksgiving:
So on this day and on as many as should come
Always remember where you’re from
Celebrate the sunrise and never let it go
If you love someone, make sure you let them know.
Good words to live by and a little extra inspiration to bring to the laboratory tomorrow.