Sooki Raphael, Sparky Walks the Neighborhood with Ann, Nashville 2020

“The price of living with a writer was that eventually she would write about you. I was taking in every precious day. What Sooki gave me was a sense of order, a sense of God, the God of Sister Nena, the God of my childhood, a belief that I had gone into my study one night and picked up the right book from the hundred books that were there because I was meant to. I had a purpose to serve. The CA 19–9 had gone from 2,100 to 470. The tumor in her liver was shrinking. A hundred thousand people in this country had already died of the coronavirus. We were still at the beginning then. But thanks to Sooki, there was enough quiet in my house, in my own mind, that I could hear the river running underground, and I wasn’t afraid.”

from “These Precious Days” by Ann Patchett

Jonathan VanAntwerpen is a program director at the Henry Luce Foundation. Originally trained as a philosopher, he holds a Ph.D. in sociology from UC-Berkeley.