Life & Death

Peanut Butter Pie

We don’t eat peanut butter pie. We don’t eat a lot of peanut butter either. In fact, peanut butter and pie don’t occupy the same spot in our diet and memories the way it does for most Americans.

But this pie, today, is more than just a dessert. It’s a symbol of life and love, and a poignant reminder about living in the moment.

If you’re a dedicated food blog reader or Twitterer, you may have heard that Jennifer Perillo, author of In Jennie’s Kitchen, unexpectedly lost her husband earlier this week. We’ve never met, and although we follow each other on Twitter, not many words are exchanged between us. The one conversation I remember was a discussion about indoor composting solutions that didn’t involve worms, because her husband, her Mikey, couldn’t stand them. For the most part though, we’re Twitter acquaintances and our lives follow different paths.

Yet, when I heard the news of Mikey’s death, I wished I could do something. This is the kind of news that you hope never to receive, regardless of whether it happens close to you or to a complete stranger. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. It’s my worst nightmare. But it’s also a wake-up call to take a fresh look at our lives and our relationships, and take stock of the blessings that we take for granted.

The auto accident, and a succession of friends’ deaths back home has made me much more aware of the specter of mortality that we all face. Each time M leaves for work or sets off on one of his many business trips, there’s a little voice acknowledging that the goodbyes we bid to each other may be our last. The pain of that awareness is enough to push me to milk each moment we have for what it’s worth. I’m still not very good at it, but it’s a process that I’m learning to accept, slowly, as part of a bigger goal to look at life more realistically, for what it is, rather than what I want it to be. Because no matter what our best laid plans, hopes or dreams may be, ultimately, we’re just passengers on this joyride of life. We cannot control what is to come. All we have is the moment we’re in. Here. Now. With a slice of peanut butter pie, and our loved ones.

In her latest post, Jennifer asked that whoever wished to help her healing process, make a peanut butter pie, Mikey’s favorite dessert. And so I did, thinking of their family every step of the way; stirring cookie crumbs and butter together, patting them into a pie base, spreading melted chocolate over the top, whipping up cream, whisking the filling together, folding the ingredients in…there were many moments for reflection in the making of these pies, each filled with the hope that the Perillos will have many happy pie-sharing memories ahead of them, after this incident. Sometimes, Life trips us up and rips your heart so bare that you don’t think you can make it. But you will, Jennifer, you will.

Chocolate Chip & Cookies


  1. So beautifully-written, Danielle. I didn’t get my act together to make pie, but I certainly have Jennie and her girls in my thoughts right now. Reading these posts has made me reflect a lot on what we have, and how lucky we are to have it. xo

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  5. Events like this do make us realize our everyday interactions — definitely morning goodbyes and wishes for having a good day. I’ve definitely been more aware of my own mortality. I’ve enjoyed your work here quietly for some time now– it’s lovely.

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