Jesse's Knives

Photogrief / Photogrief : Eleanor Haley

This essay is a part of WYG's PhotoGrief project. The goal of the PhotoGrief project is to create a space where people can explore and express their grief through pictures. Learn more about the project here.

by Doug Ebbert

In the mere 26 years that he spent in this world, my son Jesse was fortunate enough to find an occupation that he was passionate about. The life of a chef was a perfect fit for him. Jesse was artistic but ultimately lacked the patience needed for drawing or painting, and once he was introduced to the culinary world, food became his art form. He also developed a thing for knives, and the fact that a good chef required a wide assortment of knives, only helped to fuel his passion. He would spend many long hours sharpening his growing collection of cutlery.

After we lost him so tragically and suddenly, I struggled to decide what to do with those knives. I gave a few of them to his closest co workers and it is, at times, a reassuring thought to know that they are still being used to prepare food at some of the best restaurants in town. Jesse would like that.

I bought one of those magnetic strips so I could display them on the wall in my kitchen, but I soon discovered that it seemed so unnatural for them to be sitting there idle. On this occasion I took them all down from their display and experimented with different ways of displaying and photographing them.

Here they are shown with several of Jesse's books and one of the recipes he had written down in his notebook. His knives have become a symbol to me and the rest of the family, and seeing them reminds us of his passion for food, his love of knives, and also his powerful dedication and work ethic. To me, they also symbolize the sharpness of the pain of his loss that all who knew him will always carry.

The remaining knives are back on the wall again, resting awkwardly instead of being used to prepare a thousand different meals, and maybe that is how they should remain, never able to fulfill what they were made to do.

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One Comment on "Jesse's Knives"

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  1. Mary G  October 4, 2015 at 3:37 am Reply

    What a wonderful idea, I really like your photograph. I hope that it gives you some measure of peace and remembrance. I’m sorry for the loss of your beloved son. I sort of wish now that I still had some of my husband’s treasured things to add to a photograph like this. I have some of my late husband’s things but only the things that are meaningful to me and help me remember him. He was always known for his hats, so I have a collection of them and one special one that I keep displayed in my bedroom. Maybe I will pull out some of his things and take a picture too. Thank you so much for sharing about the loss of your son and showing us your photo.


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