anjalipinto anjalipinto

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anjali pinto - photographer  daily reflections on a world without my husband.

Maybe I just want a fucking normal day. One where I do what I have to do, all in an effort to come home and savor six sweet hours with my babe. The guy who makes me laugh, will watch any movie I pick, loves my cooking, will hold me before I fall asleep, then roll over and be little spoon too. The man who could do it all, even the things I didn't know I needed or wanted. The man who will send me this Snapchat before I wake up, so that when I do I get out of bed, I'm in the best mood ever.

As I set out to take my first commissioned portrait since Jacob died, I am thinking of all the times he stood in place as a test subject in support of me and my business.

When we started dating, he would join me on shoots and assist just because he enjoyed watching me work. That grew into him accompanying me to weddings as a second shooter.
He calmed me, inspired me, reassured me. He was always willing to do extra to make my life easier, to take care of me in small and useful ways, to offer me a companion whenever I felt I needed him.

What luck to be born the younger sister to a talented, thoughtful, nurturing and confident girl. Now a woman I can call on, day or night, to save me from trouble. To tuck me in, just like those first ten years before she set off for college, when sleep seems an impossible feat.
Her willingness to extend herself is unmatched, in care for me and everyone in her life. Her confidence shines brighter with each year, her big smile and shimmy shoulder laugh remain purely joyful no matter the circumstance.

This year has been our worst ever. The tides are still rolling in. There were so many things I couldn't do myself - phone calls, trips to the coroner, paperwork, finding a funeral home, my god... things we hoped to never do together. Yet through each of the swells, she has been there. To remind me that there is still love, and hope, and pleasure in this life. I will never be alone, with a guardian like you Kiran. Happy birthday, sister.

To my beautiful friend, Caitlin, who has been a beacon of understanding and patience since the moment we met. I am so happy to see you wed today. You and Nick have so much joy to bring to each other and those of us you have chosen as fortunate friends.
Thank you for the friendship, Rice Krispie treats, hand poured soap and laughter you have consistently brought into our lives.
I wish more than ever that Jacob was here today, because he loved weddings and he loved the two of you. You know also that he would be cutting a rug on the dance floor.
On the weekends we spent together, something beautiful was always stirring. A clear night sky with stars swirling in the middle of an open clearing, or a full moon rising over the gentle waters of Lake Michigan. Over coffee and crafts, we would be smiling ear to ear for the simple pleasures of enjoying this earth and its many subtleties. Best wishes to you and yours today and always, lovebirds.

I was driving
And remembered
Taking Pictures of You
By The Kooks 'I have a secret I want to tell you
Each time that I close my eyes
I can feel you
I run away with my imagination
And I am blinded by your light
You fill up the room'

And chills ensued
The intensity of your touch
The last memory we made
Love in the afternoon light

I can't recall
Was it light or dark
When I found you

I drifted off to sleep
As you drifted out without me

It's a very fine line to push the ones you love to achieve more, but also be supportive and accept them for who they are right now.
I've been thinking a lot about what work does to define you. Your legacy, your influence. I'm handing my job over to someone new, and I wish J had the same opportunity.
His special perspective and unique skills are lost without him. I know how satisfied he was to do his job and fulfill his dream to make things with his hands, yet he did not have the time enough to really emerge as the artist he was. We had talked about what his website would include - a mix of photography, furniture and design.
A few tense conversations led me to feel guilty, having maybe pushed too hard for his long term plan. But by the time of his death, we had really fallen into a safe spot of collaboration and joy in helping each other achieve our dreams.
Photo by @jcb_jhnsn

Who needs to hold hands, when you could hold feet?

Sitting on a dock, on a private lake, admiring the beauty in front of us and simultaneously consumed with the pleasure of each other's presence. How can you get closer than closest? What would be a new way to express my desire to give everything to him?

His playfulness and curiosity for the world enlightened me and brought out a silliness I had long since buried in my desire to be perceived at mature. I would laugh 'til I cried, or roll my eyes so deep at the goofy jokes until a smirk would break. I long for that special quality, his uniqueness and light.

I've spent many moments frozen, approaching a decision, not knowing how to proceed. Without his unwavering support, it is so difficult to be sure. Suddenly, I am the sole deliverer of "yes& #34; and "no& #34; to my future plans. Plans I enjoyed making for him.

I think I know what he would want. I think I can assume what he would say, but one of the things I liked most about him is that he brought such thoughtfulness and care to his approach in any decision. He was self described as indecisive, but not because he couldn't decide. It's that he enjoyed thinking of all the possibilities, imagining the outcomes, and proceeding prepared. My haste and firm stances made for the perfect balance.

I think Jacob would be happy that I'm setting off to discover myself. I hope he would be proud of me as I finish my last week at the job I've held for six years.
Photo by @jcb_jhnsn

My grandfather served in World War II as a pilot, a life I have no framework to truly fathom. He was born in 1919 - just imagine what he and my grandmother have witnessed together in their lives and 72 years of marriage. I hoped to grow old with Jacob in their likeness, to photograph him through every grey hair and age spot.
I received a letter from them after Jacob passed, a symbol of his diligence in communication. "Grandma and I have woven into the tapestry of our lives the experiences of WWII when as young people in the time frame of 21 to 26 years of age we witnessed the many friends who were newlywed or engaged to be whose lives were upset by sudden death. The male of the couple was lost in mortal combat or to an accident in a military training exercise. Almost all of these young women known to us recovered from that terrible loss to lead meaningful lives.
The few that permitted their sorrow to consume them led miserable lives in my observation. I have no desire to make this a “dear Abby” piece.

On the few occasions that Jacob and I had several minutes to talk I was impressed with his keen desire to be a furniture designer, an intense desire. That elated me for I believed that here was a young man with a goal to become a gifted contributor to society. His goal would be a struggle to achieve but it was his goal. I feel certain that you two have discussed this desire over many fruitful goal setting sessions. . .your goals too. Two talented young people aspiring to be the very best in their chosen artistic professions.

May we suggest that you can pay Jacob’s life the greatest tribute by dedicating yourself to being the finest photographer in the land. . .MRS Jacob Johnson. Do this by using all of the beautiful qualities of his life added to the pleasant personality that you possess.


Love to you, Grandpa.

I took one photo with Jacob's contax t2, and the roll of film rewound. I had no idea what he had last photographed with it, but anxiously got it developed, waiting to see his message to me.

It was a chronicle of our first trip out to Seattle in January after my brother, sister and two nieces moved west. We went sledding, walked around the lake, played with the girls, saw a waterfall & watched the sunset. We savored each moment with a new appreciation and tenderheartedness, knowing we would see so much less of them in the coming year.
This particular visual letter to me is as clear as it always was - tell the people you love how much they mean to you, and never stop seeing the beauty in being together.

Having worked in restaurants for so long, it was rare that J could show me a part of the scene that I hadn't already visited or read a review of, but one evening after being downtown he texted me that we should meet at Estereo for drinks. I had never been and was immediately enamored.

He passed it often on his way to work, and saw through the open windows to a place he could love. And because he loved it, it will always evoke happiness and comfort for me. We only came together three times, but as I sip my coffee and listen to records in his clothes, I feel close to him because I'm doing what he would want to do on this wintery Chicago weekend.

"I see blue skies on the horizon,
Birds are singing in the trees,
The blue top on the roof across the way
Is blowing like the leaves"

Two days after Jacob passed, I discovered 6 voice memos on his phone. Small recordings he had made when he was driving, singing lyrics to songs he was writing in his head. Hearing them made me smile and laugh, uncovering pieces of him I hadn't seen before. More to love, more to admire about my man.

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