December 2008

I was stretching outside my apartment building this past summer before my run through Central Park. I noticed a man from across the street walking with a long white stick. He was African American, in his early 60’s and was wearing sunglasses. I then watched a car try inching his way onto the street, and heard a loud horn. The blind man continued on his way to the corner.

I walked over to the guy behind the wheel, and asked him why he honked the horn, and at a blind man, nonetheless. What was the point, what kind of person does that? He ignored me, but I could tell he felt pretty stupid.

I walked over to the corner and grabbed the man’s arm and asked him if he needed help. He said “Thank you”. When we crossed the street, I asked him if he needed further assistance and he smiled and said he was cool. “Where are you going”? I asked. He said “ Sloan Kettering, the Cancer Hospital”. I said I know it well. I will walk you.

He took my arm and chuckled. He said my arm felt like a leg. I smiled and asked him how he does what he does, you know walking around the city in the dark.

He had a brain tumor five years ago which was operated on and caused him to go blind. He now had kidney cancer and was checking into the hospital for an operation. “I am not in the dark, son. I can see just fine.”

I told him about Max. He told me he was teary eyed. “Tell Max, that Bruce from The Bronx will be praying for him”. We continued to walk across First Avenue and down towards the entrance of the hospital on York Avenue. I walked him in through the revolving doors to where they admit patients.

He thanked me and I shook his hand, wishing him luck. He said, “Remember your eyes are there for you to see. Don’t take them for granted. Too many people that have the ability to see, are so damn blind.”

Like the guy that honked at you? I responded. “Precisely. I made it to the corner before him and as we were crossing he was just turning.” “You are right- how did you know that?” I said. “Because, I could smell the exhaust from his car as he passed us by.”

I decided not to run Central Park but to run The East River. Before I started to run I closed my eyes to see what it was like to be blind. I then put on my ipod and started to run. With the wind on my face and sun reflecting off the water, I tuned out.

From that day on, every time I smell the exhaust from a car or bus, I think of Bruce, the blind man from the Bronx who doesn’t need his eyes to see. Now, you will too…..

I can vividly remember a conversation this time last year with my wife Annemarie. Max was well into his chemotherapy treatments, and I was out of a job. Those that I worked for at the time on Wall Street saw me as weak, unfocused and more of a liability than an asset. ( Could they ever walk in my shoes?)

It was exactly one year ago that I walked away, not knowing if I would ever go back. Walking out those doors that day was the beginning of something – but at that time I had no idea what it was. Time would tell…

Annemarie then, told me that she wanted to have another child. I became very upset. We have two boys, of which one has cancer. I have no job. What was she thinking? She told me that we can’t let our troubles and struggles today, hold us back. “Today was temporary. Tough times don’t last forever and don’t let it define us.” she said. I did not want to hear it and walked away.

As you may or may not know, I had a heart attack on September 18th of this year. I was in Nashville, Tennessee recording my album “The Journey”. It was a surreal experience. I was alone and in a hospital 900 miles from home. It was just me, the images of my family in my mind and God.

When I woke up, Annemarie, my Dad, Mother and brother were there by my side. They flew down immediately after they heard the news.

Annemarie stayed with me for three days while I recovered from the surgery. She needed to get back to the boys who were with my sister-in-law and her family. My brother and mother left as well. I stayed in a nearby hotel with my dad for another week. I was not cleared to fly.

After being away from the boys for almost 2 weeks, I landed in LaGuardia Airport and raced home. When I opened the door, Max was sleeping on the couch, Alexander was in his bedroom taking a nap and Annemarie was resting in our bed.

I was exhausted from the medication I was on and crawled up next to her. I kissed her cheek. She rolled over and kissed me back. She then sat up. “Her eyes were watery. She said hi- I have something to tell you.” There was pause. ” I am pregnant”.

I took a moment to digest the news. Wow, she held back from telling me while she was at my bedside in the hospital. She is one strong “chic”. Who knows, maybe “we will have a girl, with long blonde hair and baby curls”- Time will tell….