You do not understand. Neither do I. You have no way of understanding what someone is going through day-to-day or in critical circumstances. The more you accept that you can’t understand, the better support system you will become and the more rewarding you will find the relationship. Don’t pretend to understand – empathize but acknowledge that you will never fully get it.
On August 7, a Sunday, Jennifer Perillo of In Jenny’s Kitchen- wife, mother, writer, cook, and so much more- lost her husband. Suddenly, outside, his heart stopped beating. No warnings, no signs – a brusque and brutal change in reality. Two little girls lost their father – Isabella is 8, Virginia is 3. Jennifer and Mikey spent the last 16 years of their lives together. And on a Sunday evening, the routine of a beautiful family came to a screeching halt. For them, a time to mourn. For us, a time to reflect and ponder how to best help.
I don’t know what Jennifer Perillo is going through. I can imagine it is the seven rings of hell. I can imagine it is heart-wrenching. I can imagine it is crushing. I can imagine that she is hopeless in a time where she needs to be stronger than ever for her children. I can imagine she wants to die to be with her soulmate but she can’t because her other two soulmates, her daughters, count on her now more than ever. I can imagine that she is looking lovingly on her life with Mikey and mourning all the years they will not have together. I can try to empathize, but I will never know what is in her heart.
Over 15 years ago, on a Sunday night, I was making out with my first boyfriend at a movie in Bucharest. I can’t remember the movie. I remember where we were sitting and what I was wearing. We walked home and he left. My father had been in the hospital for a week. I did not visit him – a weird situation brought on by my parents separating, teenage stupidity, and a mother that thought it was best to ‘protect’ us from such situations. I was in the living room on a brown leather couch with my mom and brother then 13 years old. We were watching TV. The phone rang. My mom got up to answer. I felt a knot in my stomach. I couldn’t see her face but I heard a quiver in her voice that gave it away. I knew. She turned to us and told her two children- your father died. He was 39, pancreatic cancer- undiagnosed until it was much too late. There is no way for me to explain that loss. You will never know what was in my heart- what is still in my heart. I never liked to talk about it- I still don’t and streams of tears run down my face now so violently that I wonder why I even started to write this.
I knew that day that nothing could replace what I lost. I knew that my life would be fundamentally different. I knew that he wouldn’t see me graduate from high school, college, and law school. I knew he would not walk me down the isle. He wouldn’t guide my little brother to his teenage years. He wouldn’t spend one more holiday with us. I knew he wouldn’t hold his grandchildren. And that was the biggest lost- at 15 – and now- I found it unbearably tragic that my children would never get to know him.
I never got to say I am sorry one more time. I never got to say I love you one more time. But I committed – never to refrain from saying I love you, never to postpone saying I am sorry, never to take people, days, and moments for granted. This loss softened my heart forever and pushed me to be more accepting and more grateful for the good in life and people. And today, it pushed me to ask you to help – help Jennie and her daughters.
The food and blogger community united to support them. Support came in many forms and more is pouring in. I want to be part of that. I want you to be part of it to. I want her to know, and her daughters to know, and Mikey to know that even though she feels irrecoverably lonely, she is not alone. But how to help, you ask?
Start by bidding on this new copy of AdHoc at Home signed by Thomas Keller. I am auctioning a copy that I bought and had signed over a year ago. When I got it, the thought was to do a giveaway on my blog. It never felt right and I know why – it was waiting for this. The starting bid is $75 and the auction will end Tuesday at 9pm Mountain Time. To bid, leave a comment on the section below (be sure I have an email address). Please share this with your friends to get the bidding process going!
100% of the winning bid will go to A Fund for Jennie – a project started by Bloggers without Borders to provide this family with financial support after this loss. And if you’re not into the book donate directly to this fund right here: Bloggers without Borders.
Hug your loved ones closer, be sweeter to those you care about- treasure and cherish them each and every day. And help Jennie now.
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