© Sonia Soberats, undated, "Death Watch"

Inspired by the anonymous deaths of homeless people that Sonia Soberats sometimes witnessed in the barrios of New York.

Sometimes when she’s taking pictures, Sonia Soberats forgets she cannot see.

Until 1986, Ms. Soberats was like many single immigrant mothers — living in Queens, working two jobs and watching her two children grow into flourishing adults. Life began to crumble, though, when ovarian cancer was diagnosed for her only daughter. Two years later, the family received more bad news: her only son had Hodgkin’s disease. He died in 1991, and three years later, so did Ms. Soberats’s daughter.

In between those deaths, Ms. Soberats, who had a history of glaucoma, lost her eyesight. First the right eye went dark, then about six months later, the left.

“That biblical story about the seven good years and the seven bad years? That happened to me,” Ms. Soberats, 77, said in an interview at her home in Jackson Heights.  “I think their sickness helped me cope with my blindness. Because I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about them. How much they were suffering, how much they were going through.” (read more)