This week, my fellow food blogger Jennifer Perillo's beloved husband, Mikey, died of a sudden heart attack. Word of her tragedy quickly spread throughout the food-blogosphere as her friends and fellow bloggers rushed to try to help, to sign up for a homemade food delivery rotation, to ask what they could do to help. Jennie answered that question with this blog post, saying, "For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on."
I don't know Jennifer or her family, but - like hundreds of other people who have heard her story in the last few days - I wanted to join in the chorus of people making peanut butter pies for Mikey. Jennie's request reminds me of the Raymond Carver story, A Small Good Thing. That story has always been a sure-fire tear-jerker for me: I cry not just for the devastated, angry parents of a child who has passed away, but also for the lonely, furious baker - childless, never married, apparently without friends or loved ones of his own. He bakes the cakes for other people's celebrations - the children's birthdays he will never celebrate, the anniversaries and graduations and weddings. And though I have always known how incredibly surrounded by love and wonderful friends and family I have always been... in my loneliest and most self-pitying moments, I have felt like I was the baker. That I was somehow destined to bake the wedding cakes for other people, but never for myself.
In the end of Raymond Carver's story, they come together - the lonely baker, the grieving parents - and in a crescendo of love and forgiveness, the baker serves the couple their first meal since the death of their son. He feeds them hot sweet rolls and coffee, and he says to them, "You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this."
How very true that is. And so I make this pie in hopes that it will be a small, good thing for Jennifer and her daughters. I hope that she will find comfort in its making, and in its sharing, and in the hundreds of bloggers who are coming together today to make a peanut butter pie for Mikey.
And I will share it with my Steady Eddie, a man who not only loves a good peanut butter dessert, but has managed to transform a lonely baker into a woman who believes in love with every bit of her cynical little heart.
Edited to add: Bloggers Without Borders has established #afundforJennie - a place where you can make contributions directly to Jennie Perillo, if you wish to do so. Go to http://glutenfreegirl.com/a-fund-for-jennie/ for more information and to make a donation.