The end of jazz, and why I have taken a break

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita *
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Divina Comedia – Dante Alighieri, Canto I

It’s now been one month since my husband passed away. He had been ill for four months, mostly at home, but there were regular trips to the E.R. There was hope and he was improving, his doctors insisted (!?). On our sixth trip to the hospital, reality prevailed over wishful thinking, and my husband managed to slip away in the I.C.U., a little after he barely touched his breakfast, and about one hour after “doctors round” had concluded that his condition was stable. 

“A vida é um sopro.” **

Portuguese popular saying

Note to self: Not nostalgic of “doctors’ round” at the I.C.U. (doctors gather in the morning in front of the patient’s room, open the door and discuss the treatment in front of him, ask, answer questions). I hope never to attend another one in my life.

My husband’s illness, and passing, had an unexpected effect on my photography, the main theme of this blog: right now, I simply cannot think of any reason why anything needs or deserves to be photographed. This sudden change in my disposition was unexpected: I used to think that photography would always carry me through the the painful times in my life, as it had in the past. Now I just sit here, wondering, how come I have spent so many years taking photos? More importantly, when I look at my work, I don’t recognize myself in it anymore. 

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” 

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

My grandmother used to say about grief “dê tempo ao tempo” (give time some time). Keeping in mind that I must go on, I’ll resume this blog, even if I have to talk about photos from other people, and see what happens in the long run.

Just showing up is half of the battle.

Woody Allen

The lead photograph is of my husband playing his favorite Gibson. I took it in 2016 and made it available, along with a few others, as Rights Managed through Alamy. My husband was not impressed by the photographs in this series and I was not impressed by his shirt. Maybe that’s why the photos never sold.

My husband was a jazz guitar player, and I will miss the music.

* When half way through the journey of our life, I found that I was in a dark forest, because the path which led aright was lost.

** life is a blow.

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Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

36 thoughts on “The end of jazz, and why I have taken a break

  1. Oh, Alessandra. My heart broke for you when I read this. I am so sorry. I guess that you saw it coming despite the doctors’ more positive encouragements. That never makes the reality any softer. I will miss your photographs but know it takes time to heal as your grandmother’s wisdom advises. All your blogging friends will be looking forward to your rebound from the sadness and return to what has brought you pleasure and a sense of accomplishment once time has soothed the pain and allowed you to carry on. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Doctors these days look too much at the computer, reading test and imaging results, too little at the patient! They miss what’s important, unfortunately. Following my husband’s treatment very closely has made me very suspicious of health care as it stands now. Too late for my husband, but doctors need to go back to the basics: look, examine, listen.

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  2. I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. I hope with each passing day you grow stronger and create your new path. May his memory be a blessing for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My sympathies to you, so sorry to hear of your husband’s loss. A terrible weight. My suggestion would be to give your photography time. There have been times in my life when I’ve lost the love of writing and then others when it’s been my joy and salvation. You never know … maybe one day, you’ll get it back. No matter what, you’ll always have the memories and art that you photographed in the past. Thanks for sharing. My condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not really a decision. I simply don’t feel like picking up the camera just yet… I know it could change anytime, and I never thought I was going to go through this. Seven years of photographing almost every day…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Very sorry to hear that, Alessandra.

    Unfortunately I can relate to your experience with your husband’s passing. I hesitate to offer advice to someone I don’t know at all. However, you don’t have to take note of it, so my suggestion is to go with how you feel and try not to worry about your photography. Appreciate your feelings, however sad they may be. Life is about experiences. Many of them are not what we want them to be, but they make us who we are.

    Bereavement affects everyone differently. It is over 4 years since I lost my husband. The first few months were excruciating, but at that stage, I never had a problem knowing what to do. Now I find motivation harder as I struggle to work out what to do with my life. Photography is important to me, too, although I don’t have your talent (or maybe dedication!) It will come back to you in its own time. Alternatively you may find a new outlet for your creativity.

    With condolences and very best wishes,

    Pol

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I think your advice sounds pretty reasonable. I also am trying to figure out what to do with my life, since I came here to California to have a life with my husband. We did get some 15 years out of it, but now I don’t know what I want to do. Photography is practice and practice, I used to be completely obsessed with photographing everything, that’s how I learned. I’m sure you are very talented, but if you are not satisfied with your results, practice more.

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  5. Oh dear I’m so so sorry for your loss. It seems even when we feel we can be prepared for whatever comes it sure does change when we are actually faced with this sort of incredible change to our lives. I totally get it when you talk about the way you feel about your photography now. I big part of that whole circle that was your life has been cut into. Detached. Parts missing. I get it. Believe me I
    Know. It’s difficult to just step back into your life like nothing has changed. But as time passes you will find ways to feel your strengths again. Doesn’t matter where or how you do that. Just follow your heart. What makes you feel better is what you should do even if it has absolutely nothing to do with photography. I mean you are more than just a photographer. Much much more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve thought of you often during the past weeks, Alessandra. I knew that your husband was ill, but assumed that in time he would recover and you would rejoin us. I’m so sorry that it came to this end, and understand the sort of numbness you seem to be feeling.

    Your experience with the ICU, and with the physicians, is unfortunately common. I dealt with similar dynamics when my mother was hospitalized and in the ICU; had it not been for the nurses, it would have been far more difficult. Of course, that was more than a decade ago, and now the added insults of computerized medicine can make things maddening, at best.

    For now, you may not recognize yourself in your photography — or in other aspects of your life, for that matter — but given time, that will change, just as your grandmother said. I’m glad to see you here; even such a small step is a step forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Yes, the nurses make all the difference. After my husband died, they came to the room to hug us and pay their respect. Not a one of the six doctors came back to talk to us. We had to read the sequence of events leading to death in the certificate 😶

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  7. Really sorry to read this, I had no idea what you were going through. I can understand that photography seems meaningless to you at the moment. I just want to say that I’m sorry for your loss and hope you can find a way to get through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear this although I did wonder what you were dealing with. There is not very much that I can say – I haven’t been through this depth of loss and so have no experience to call on. I truly hope you can continue day by day and perhaps reach the stage where photography actually helps you again. I wish you all the best in dealing with your grief and look forward to your contributions on your blog again in the future.
    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Best wishes, Alessandra. Don’t worry about not wanting to do any photography. I’m feeling a similar loss of interest, for different reasons, but I have no doubt the desire to do something with the camera will come back eventually – it always does. That’s how life works.

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  10. I was so sorry to read about your husband’s passing. I was thinking today about my dad’s passing and how my mom lived another decade after they had been married 57 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just couldn’t hit the like button on this post Alessandra. I am so sorry you have to go through the loss of your husband. I love jazz and the picture of your husband is amazing. I had to go back and look at his shirt as I was staring at his hand and guitar the first time. Do you have any recordings of him playing his jazz? It would be lovely to put them on your blog for everyone (or me) to hear if you do. You take all the time you need until you decide on blogging and taking more pictures, we will wait!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh, what a shock! I never suspected or could have guessed the reason for your pause in posting photographs. Eu te ofereço paz. It’s understandable that “art” photography might seem meaningless alongside such a personal loss. After you’ve applied your grandmother’s advice, you may well come back to your art.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So sorry to read about your loss Alessandra. Events like this sure put things into a completely different perspective. Perhaps, you are not the same person now as you were before.
    Thank you for all the beautiful images you’ve shared so far. Warm hugs!

    Like

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