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Theology of a Pediatric Cancer Patient

by Anne Visser Ney

For my son David, who explained to me the reason St. Jude's statue was gone during construction of the hospital's new research tower, in 1994. St. Jude's specializes in treating childhood cancers; the hospital takes its name from the patron saint of hopeless cases.

Not the first time you visited St. Jude,
just long enough afterwards that you knew
some part of the emerging truth,
his statue was gone:  Patron Saint of the Hopeless
tucked safely from harm's way.

But you were there:  bone-weary pilgrim
to medical ministers, clever anointer
of your Batman and Robin and two Power Rangers:  loyal disciples.

You, the suffering communicant of carboplatin and VP-16, determined 
of body fluids, faithful worshiper
of Big Bird and Elmo, joyful builder
of Lego Temples, reluctant owner
of a shiny-nickel new eight-inch scar
gracing the back of your hairless head.

You were there.  Four-year-old architect of hope's doctrine,
eyes rolled heavenward when asked if you knew, who
belonged on the empty pedestal.
Mo-om! you said to me,

	(overly educated,
	clouded eyes only able to see
	the granite stone declaring Hopeless Cases.)

You know who!  Donatello! Teenage
mutant pizza-lover, empowered
sewer-dweller, humbled
follower of the Rat Master Splinter in His Fight Against Shredder.

Oh, I see, I said, hope cracking my heart.

No competent angel was a better
guard against Evil goons
stepping unpredictably through
an omnipossible portal of doom
threatening the sanity of everything.

Anne Ney, David Holte's Mom, holds an MS in Biology from Georgia Southern University, and studies Creative Writing at Eckerd College. David was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in 1993, at age 3; he passed away in 2002, in Georgia, from treatment complications. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she hopes to write a memoir about loving David. Her work has appeared in Secrets of the South, The Sun, Statesboro Herald and Triton.