Following the sudden death of my 30-year-old husband, Jacob Johnson, the shock was engulfing. Pain is too soft a word. He had no known health problems, nor had he been sick. The autopsy revealed a tear in his aorta, a rare abnormality in young men. The coroner could not explain the underlying cause for the fatal gash along his main artery, but we do know that blood surged through Jacob’s chest, surrounded his heart, and made it impossible to continue beating.
I was at home with him when it happened, napping in the next room. Did he call out for me, had I not heard him? I found him in an upright position, looking as though he had fainted. When my hand touched his cheek to wake him, a terrifying knowledge enveloped me - my husband was dead. Medics were not able to revive him, I was defenseless in his most vulnerable state.
How could someone so seemingly healthy cease to exist? Genetic tests clarified nothing. In a world where so many questions can be answered instantly, his death remains unsolvable. Nearly two years later, the mystery continues to baffle me. He was just here, how could he be gone? I feel a pang of jealousy when I see scar along a man’s chest - why could he not be saved?
He supported my passion in photography, collaborated in making images and was matched in my desire to document our life. Our vast photo archive - some 15,000 images - serves as a meaningful reminder of the incredible partner he was. The photos allow me to stay close to our memories as the time I’ve spent without him grows longer. Everyday moments I captured - like a walk through a park, or a morning in bed - take on new meaning in light of his death. They echo the haunting feelings of his sudden and irreversible void.
This series, Gone, seeks to explore the pain, trauma and beauty I have experienced as a young widow. In these images, his presence and his absence are equally felt. They are proof that he was here, and that he is gone.