Sharing photographic memories of the husband she lost far too early has had a healing effect on the young widow Michelle Miller has been talking to:
Photographer Jacob Johnson dreamed of a photo exhibit like this. His wife Anjali Pinto, also a photographer, made it happen.
"Originally my thought was it would be a wall of his work, and a wall of my work," Pinto told Miller.
"Who was the better photographer?" Miller asked.
"Oh, not fair!" Pinto laughed.
Unfortunately, her husband isn't here to see it. "Essentially, the walls of his aorta weakened from the inside, and eventually it burst," she said.
With no warning, at age 30, Johnson died on New Year's Eve, 2016, just 16 months after getting married.
They met by following each other on Instagram, so she had an idea: "I turned to Instagram after Jacob's death because I had so many beautiful portraits of him."
Every day last year, she posted a new image of him … of them … a glimpse of the life they shared.
"I never imagined Jacob would die first," Pinto wrote on Instagram. "It is so much less painful to imagine dying than losing the person you love."
Each image was an insight into her daily grief.
"I couldn't then, and still now, can't fathom how so much can happen in one day, the loving moments and horrifying reality divided by a few minutes of chaos."
Her Instagram following grew to more than 51,000. Many were inspired to write their own stories, like this one:
"I could never really come to terms with the fact that my dear father had left me," one wrote. "No point in one's life is right for the loss of an immensely loved one!"
Miller asked, "Was there a reaction or comment that stood out to you?"
"One day I got a very long comment from a woman, she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and had two small children," Pinto said. "And she wrote me that seeing my way of surviving and trying to find joy brought her comfort, because she hoped that her daughters and her husband would have the same experience."
"Did that surprise you?"
"Absolutely. I've received support and encouragement and also really heartbreaking stories from people all over the world."
"What has it taught you about grieving publicly the way you have?"
"I've always believed that telling a true story about yourself can bring strangers closer to you," Pinto replied.
Even when the story is about love and loss.
For more info:
- Anjali Pinto Photography (anjalipinto.com)
- Follow @Anjalipinto on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr
- Jacob Johnson Print Shop
- Jacob Johnson Memorial Art Show by Anjali Pinto & Jacob Johnson, LOW RES Rec Room, Chicago, Ill. (Exhibit closed)
Story produced by Alturo Rhymes.