On New Year’s Day I received word that my cousin John was transferred to hospice care the night before.


While people across the country and world were celebrating the opportunity and possibility that comes with every New Year, my cousins new bride began the transition to a widow much too early. John was laid to rest today after going home on January 2, 2016. He was only 51.


The death of a relative is the closest thing my extended family comes to having a reunion. The setting isn’t a family friendly hotel or resort, but rather a wake in a funeral home usually located in the Bronx or Harlem, NYC. We greet each other with hugs and kisses questions about our wellbeing and the status and age of our children.


Since my own second encounter with cancer and my resulting blindness, part of preparing to attend any public event is getting ready to deal with what I refer to as the “weirdness”. The “weirdness” can occur at any moment. The beholder of the “weirdness” can be male or female, young or old, friend, family or foe. The “weirdness” takes many forms. It’s the overly sympathetic sounding voice that some use to say hello and ask how I am doing. It can be the awkwardness that ensues when I inquire to the whereabouts of the rest room. I think some envision having to take on much more than either giving me directions or an elbow!


The “Weirdness” takes on many forms;

  • Ignorant comments disguised as compliments to me, my wife or children
  • Uncomfortable stares and murmurs
  • Feeling as though we’ve been segregated when we’re placed in a section of a room and ignored


For some relatives, just like some in the general public, my blindness is less about what I along with my wife and family are doing or have been able to accomplish and achieve, but rather a tangled spool of misperceptions and uninformed ideas. Hence, the need for preparation.

I’m happy to say that my personal growth and that of my entire family enables us to show up with smiles, conversations and if sought lots of value. We have been through very difficult times and as a family we pushed through and are all better individuals for that. Still, some can’t imagine that to even be possible.


With all my experiences I’m still a little shocked when I over hear comments in respect to my blindness and loss of my eyes that remind me that there are many who believe blindness is worse than death.


Twelve years ago when faced with the loss of my sight I knew it was my preferred outcome. I couldn’t fathom leaving my family. Fortunately, my cancer was contained in the eye and orbit and I survived. Apparently, there are many out there who are in need of a reality check…


My cousin John, I believe is no longer suffering from all the destruction cancer brought including the treatments. For someone with a strong personality like him, it was probably the other things that come with being labeled sick; people  treating you differently – questions about your health being the new greeting or maybe worse people no longer contacting you as though cancer were contagious.

It’s his wife, children, mom, sister, nephews and others who remain in pain.


Those who believe they would rather be dead than blind may not realize the selfishness along with the ignorance comprised in this statement.

“A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own. ~Thomas Mann


In the past twelve year’s I am so thankful for all that I have had the chance to experience…

The growth and the work that goes into improving my relationship with my wife!

We have experienced some really low times, but as I watch how she has handled our life changes and has become even a better person from all that we experienced. These things make our good times even better.


I watch both my daughters’ blossom into their own personalities

The incredible fun and joy I feel when my girls and I sit around the table after dinner talking sometimes serious conversations, but often just laughing and joking. I know they know their dad and the different sides to my personality

I had the chance to be there for my mother along with my sister as we helped her recover from her surgery.

I wouldn’t want to have to do that again, but I see the blessing in being able to be there.


These are just some of my life experiences over the past 12 years.


John’s nephew shared memories of how his uncle impacted his life. All of the memories were just really simple things that demonstrated him sharing his time and energy. While I believe he left this earth too early I do know John was able to experience many of the joys that life has to offer. Unfortunately his family has to deal with the feelings and thoughts that come with losing a loved one. My prayer is that they find strength in knowing he loved them and they him. I hope they can focus on the great times and memories they made together. Knowing that he isn’t suffering and would want them to live their lives and make more memories with him in their hearts.


RIP My Big Cuz John!


Blindness worse than death? Seems way too easy for me to ask who is really blind…but if the shoe fits…

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