”He’s gone, and my heart is shattered in a million pieces.”—Jennifer Perillo
I was reading this sentence and fighting tears on Monday. I desperately hoped that it didn’t mean the only thing that it could mean. Only a little more scrolling about confirmed that Jennifer Perillo, a well known food blogger, writer, and mother of two had just informed us that in a flash, in a cruel and unforeseen flash, her husband had died of a heart attack. Mikey is Jennifer’s husband.
We all have a new kind of community that transcends geography and family. It is strange to admit that I found myself swallowing hard to chase away tears and turning my head away from the humans who actually sat in my presence because I was feeling profound grief for the loss experienced by a woman whom I have never met personally and with whom I have only enjoyed a few congenial exchanges online…on Twitter.
And, I was softened and weakened already as I had spent the prior two days awaiting the inevitable news that my husband’s and my dear friend was about to succumb to a two year battle with cancer. Death has its own time table and it waits for no one. Neither Pitts nor I were in Texas to be there and help walk our friend and his wonderful wife to this particular door. Not five minutes after reading about Jennifer’s stunning loss, our friend’s wife informed me that he had died mere minutes before. His journey had been long and arduous. His passing was neither sudden nor unexpected. But, in a fickle moment, both of these women had lost their life companion.
My husband was somewhere in the Pecos mountains, unreachable, leading a cadre of high school boys on a week’s long hike, but in that moment I thanked God with all of my might that I still had him. And I grieved for these two women who would never see their husband’s on this side of life again. It is truly inconceivable until it happens to you, I suppose. I cannot fully fathom it.
Jennifer, inundated with well wishes for herself and her daughters, somehow found it in herself to post a recipe on her website for this pie. Her simple wish was that all of us make this pie and share it with people that we love. She asked that we all take a moment to celebrate and acknowledge the gifts of love and family, because it is promised only in the immediate moment, and can be taken away at any time.
So, that is what I did. I made Mikey’s Pie to share with my family and with you. You will find the recipe for Mikey’s Pie on Jennifer’s website. It is her recipe and I’m not inclined to copy it here for some reason. If you want to make this pie for your people, go visit her website and read her words and look at her photos. They are profoundly touching. I know that her husband and my friend are alright. I believe with every fiber of my being that one can approach the grave “like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lie(s) down to pleasant dreams,” as envisioned by William Cullen Bryant. It is the living who have to slog through the grief.
I have certainly explored the happy side of food. I have given you things to make in times of celebration and joy, and things to make just because they make you feel good. I haven’t talked much about cooking to soothe pain, and baking to impart compassion and condolences. Food certainly has an elegiacal role, as well. I’m sorry to write about such sadness on a blog that is usually a happy place. But I was a bit sad, and you are my friends so I knew you would understand. And, pie always makes me feel a bit better.
So, hold your people close. Show them that you love them. Celebrate your good fortune and send out a prayer for my friend and for Jennifer Perillo. I know several of my loyal readers have lost dear spouses, as well. I know others of you have suffered other, equally eviscerating losses. Know that I have been thinking about you this week, too.