Sunday, April 28, 2013

the battle he didn't choose

All photos are by Angelo Merendino and are used with his permission

Jennifer Merendino was back in the hospital again. It was a warm May morning, and the 39-year-old was a few days into yet another stay at Memorial Sloan-Kettering to treat her metastatic breast cancer. It had spread to her bones by then, making it hard for her to stand. But she was standing then, in front of a mirror in her hospital room, while her husband, Angelo Merendino, prepared to shave her head before she lost her hair to chemotherapy again. He stood behind her, wielding an electric razor in one hand and holding a camera with the other, finger on the shutter.  

He said, “I've got to make a quick photo of us doing this, of you and me.” She assented, holding onto a support pole attached to the bathroom wall. “I just fired off two quick photographs, then I put the camera down.” The resulting photo was one of many black-and-white portraits that comprise “My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer,” which documents, through Merendino’s lens, Jennifer’s 20-month illness and eventual death at age 40 in December 2011.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Last night, I took the subway home from a "Mad Men" viewing party (complete with good friends, great conversation, pizza, apple pie, and so-gross-it's-amazing ambrosia salad). I got out at the 59th Street stop on the 4/5/6.

Between there and reaching my door, I walked by a man passed out on the floor in a bank's ATM lobby, and a woman trying to fall asleep atop a sidewalk grate, fidgeting beneath a thin blanket, right across the street from the neighborhood's newish Whole Foods. It was Sunday around midnight, so there wasn't anyplace open in the vicinity to grab something warm for the woman to nurse into the wee hours.

I'm not the first, or most eloquent, person to articulate this, but: This is not OK, this disparity between how I get to live and how much some fellow New Yorkers are suffering. Team, we must do better.