David Russell Mosley
7 July 2016
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
It has been two years since my younger son was diagnosed with cancer. Two years. I cannot describe to you how difficult that time in our lives was. We had it better than many. Edwyn survived and has been cancer free since at least October of 2014. Below is a post I wrote exactly two years ago today on our Caring Bridge website. I share it with you here and now.
Dear Friends and Family,
Today Edwyn is to have the last of his first round of chemotherapy. It’s so strange to think that it was only Friday we found out he had cancer and the Friday before that, that he had a lump in his abdomen. We still don’t know what stage the cancer is at, but we are attacking it vigorously. It’s hard to say how Edwyn is doing with the chemo. Part of what brought us into the hospital was the amount he was spitting up. This has not significantly increased nor decreased. It seems he may be in some pain from his various surgeries, but otherwise, I think, he is doing well. It is impossible to tell, of course, because he cannot tell us how he feels. This is, currently, the hardest part of being the parent of an infant with cancer: they cannot tell us how they feel, what hurts, what doesn’t, etc. We’ll hopefully be able to go home in the next few days, after we see how he is off the chemo.
My supervisor, friend, and often priest, Simon Oliver has instructed me not to think about my thesis during this time. I must admit, I find that rather easy, but I cannot stop thinking as a theologian. Having children has caused me to see the world in such a new light that I cannot describe its effects, having a child with cancer has done so even more. I told Lauren the other day that she should expect me to dive more into my spirituality in the days, weeks, and months to come. While this has had few outward effects, it has had many inward.I have been thinking a lot lately about an interview John Milbank gave several years ago (you can listen to it here). In it, John talks about all the things he still believes, things that are part of what we would call a medieval metaphysics: angels, demons, the sacraments, pilgrimages; in short, the mediated presence of the divine in every part and aspect of creation. I have, especially in the last few years, tacitly agreed with this. I believed in angels, and other spirits; I believed in sacred spaces and that yet the whole world is sacred; I believed that the communion of the saints included those who have departed this life and that they can pray for us; I believed that the sacraments were mediations of God’s grace to us in physical, material objects. Now, however, I feel as though I am finally experiencing these things as realities. Edwyn was anointed before we found out he had cancer, and while that did not heal him, I think something really happened and that the oil and the words are important. We had a Eucharist service here in the hospital and I saw my son smile as hands were laid on him and the Aaronic blessing was pronounced over him. This world we live in has been and is created by God and he can use even the meanest of elements to remind us of that. This is what my son has shown me in a way I only acknowledged but had not truly experienced before.
I love my sons, and it pains me so much to see one of them feel so ill. To help me cope with this, I have begun work on a fairy tale for them. In many ways, it is a story for Edwyn specifically, as he is the one doing battle. However, I pray that it may bless them both in days to come.
We continue to thank you all for your love and support and especially prayers. Previously we had asked for Costa vouchers, but the Costa here at the hospital does not accept them. For now, we are doing our best to stay strong, rely on God and the protection of his holy angels, and to love on our children.