Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 9:55 am
Richard Rodriguez begins his latest book, Darling, with an unfussy dedication to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a Catholic women's group committed to helping the sick and destitute. This Baptism, if you will, is the first and surely the most straightforward indication within the book that Rodriguez intends to delve into his complex relationship with religion. The path that lies beyond that dedication is weird and wonderful, and readers will find that it's far from a direct route.
Abbey Whetzel has a 12-year-old son named Sam who has been at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland for over a month. He has leukemia that is no longer treatable. And in this difficult time, one source of joy has been the therapy dogs that come to visit the sick kids.
"They can only come once a week, but it's the highlight of Sam's week," says Whetzel. But this week, she says, her son got some bad news. "They came and stopped in, and told Sam that the therapy dog wouldn't be coming because of the government shutdown."