dream big and leap

As I wrote the title for this post, it occurred to me that you all might be worried about the words leap and a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Missing Mikey is often like walking with a shard of glass in my heart. Sometimes it sits in such a position that I can exist, and get through the day to day chores of life with two little girls. Others—especially at night, it feels as though that shard of glass is being twisted and turned, ravaging me until I wonder if I'll come out of this with any part of it left.

And then there are moments, when I know I really will find my way in this world again. Moments when I can laugh, and feel a happiness and peace in my heart that I never thought imaginable after 5:52 pm on August 7th.

Today is 35 days since Mikey died.

At this moment 35 days ago, he was still sleeping. I had not yet woken up to ultimately live my worst nightmare. I had not known the significance this ordinary-looking patch of concrete would soon hold.


This is where Mikey collapsed. He stopped here to kneel for a moment, and never got up. This is where Isabella screamed "Daddy, wake up" until passersby came to help. This is where I saw Mikey as I ran down the block screaming "No, please don't let him die". This is where my life changed in an instant.

It is easy to hate that spot. To want to avoid ever walking past it, yet yesterday I felt the need to document it. To own it, so it cannot own me for the rest of my life.

That spot will not defeat me.

It will not define me.

But that spot will shape me, and affect every decision I make.

And so, I found myself walking towards the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time without Mikey last night. A walk we did many times during our early courtship. As life got busy with two kids, those walks came to a screeching halt. For months, I'd been telling him I wanted to walk that bridge on one of our date nights, but it never happened.

As I approached the bridge, I saw the moon hiding behind the clouds. Then something beautiful happened as I made my way across. With each step the moon broke free and glistened like a beacon in the night sky. Then I noticed a white ballon flying upwards, and the first star of the night sky caught my eye. Mikey knew I loved wishing on the first star.


So, yes baby, I did make a wish, and I believe it will one day come true because I'm keeping the promise we made and will never forget to dream. Moving forward is not leaving you behind. I will tell myself this every day until I believe it.

For now, all I can do is dream big and leap.


  • Sarah

    Your daughters will have a much better life because you are choosing to take this path. I wish my mom would have done the same when my dad passed away. Hugs to you – may the fall only be as fast as it needs to be to be to keep you feeling alive.

  • Gema

    Beautiful, Jennie. You will make your dreams come true, no doubt about it. Just give yourself some time.
    My best wishes to you and your girls and don’t ever give up.

  • J

    Your words are lovely and touching … I just wish you will find solace and strength. You are strong and beautiful. All my best, today and always.

  • Laurie

    Hi Jennie, your posts are so raw and honest. Thank you for showing us what real grief looks and sounds like. I’m sorry you have this loss to share.

  • Cheryl Arkison

    Wow, this makes it clear that you will see those lights more and more. It may not seem like it to you just now, but it comes across.
    And the documentation? It actually makes perfect sense to me. It makes better sense that you shared it because now it isn’t just yours, it doesn’t own you. I have pictures of my dying father for the same reason, but they still hang out in iPhoto and I question whether I should just delete them.
    As for the insomnia, yikes! I could teach you to quilt, if you like. That’s the only way I’ve gotten through mine. I give in to not being able to sleep and create something instead.
    Take care,

  • janet

    So beautiful. It sounds cliche to say it, maybe, but you really are an inspiration. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m also continually amazed by your strength. In some way, you’ve definitely changed the way I look at life.

  • Lou31

    I’ve been reading your blog & tweets since some friends I follow drew my attention to what happened. I haven’t known what to say. I’ve never faced a tragedy like this, can’t imagine what I would do. But your words have been inspiring, and moving, and courageous, and I just want you to know that there’s a stranger thousands of miles away who wishes you and your girls well. And that I’ve been appreciating and enjoying time with my other half as much as I can the last few weeks, enjoying each moment as it comes. You’ve made a difference to me there.

  • Maria

    He showed himself in that white balloon…
    So many people imagine that death cruelly separates us from our loved ones. Even pious people are led to believe this great and sad mistake. When our loved ones die, they do not leave us, they remain. They do not go to some dark and distant place. They simply begin their eternity. We do not see them because we are still in the darkness of the world. But their spiritual eyes, filled with the light of heaven, are always watching us as they wait for the day when we shall share their perfect joy. We are all born for heaven and one by one we end this life of tears to begin our life in endless happiness.
    A firm faith in the real and continual presence of our loved ones has brought the conviction and consolation that death has not destroyed them, nor carried them away. Rather it has given them life – a life with power to know fully and to love perfectly. With this new life and new power our loved ones are always present to us, knowing and loving us more than ever before.
    The tears that dampen our eyes in times of mourning are tears of homesickness, tears of longing for our loved ones. But it is we who are away from home. Death, for our loved ones, has been a doorway to an eternal home. And only because this heavenly home is invisible to our worldly eyes, we cannot see them so near us. Yet, they are with us, lovingly and tenderly waiting for the day when we, too, will enter the doorway of our eternal home. No, death is not a separation. It is a preparation for eternal union with those we love, in the peace and joy of heaven. – unknown author “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

  • Marisa

    I remember my grandmother telling the story of how she burned the clothing she was wearing the day my grandfather died on her kitchen floor, also of a heart attack, at age 50. She said she could not ever put those clothes on her back again and she couldn’t give them to anyone else, even a stranger. But she would not move out of their house that they had struggled to purchase. She cooked in that kitchen every day for the next thirty years, standing on the spot where he died. You sound stubborn, as she was, and determined to figure out how to live. She did and you will, too. We all believe it, and in time, my hope is that you will not only believe it, but make it so.

  • Jackie

    Hi Jennie,
    I came across your blog when one of my friends posted a link to peanut butter pie. Imagine my surprise when I read your article that broke my heart. I’ve wanted to comment before but it seemed like it had all been said by someone else. I lost my mother suddenly Nov. 22, 2009 the day after my parents 50th anniversary. We numbly tried to make it through christmas for my nephew’s sake, then dad wasn’t feeling well and we were back and forth to the emergency room 3 times before the new year. Finally we were told that he was diabetic and we thought… great, diabetic we can deal with. Unfortunately it turned out to be stage 4 cancer and he was gone on April 24, 2010. All I can tell you is that in the face of great tragedy you really find out who your friends are. Just dismiss the unfortunate comments from people who feel for you but just don’t know what to say in the face of your tragedy and immense grief. You are obviously a strong and intelligent woman who has been fortunate to have had a great love in your life that was unfairly taken from you far too soon. Just remember that you can feel what you feel when you feel it, there is no rule book (unfortunately) and there is no time table. I know that you will find your way through this maze with the help of your family and friends. My thoughts are with you.

  • Dana B.

    You write beautifully. Talking about the balloon reminded me of the book Where do Balloons Go? by Jamie Lee Curtis. Don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a nice kids’ book that abstractly talks about where people go when they die. Thoughts and prayers for you and your girls. Take care!

  • JulieD

    Jennie, I think of you every day. Good for you, dream big & leap. I didn’t think anything of it, I just thought of Penny when you said that. Your words shine through as strong & resilient. Whatever it is that you’re dreaming will happen, I just know it.

  • Sugarlips

    Tears flow down my face once again as I read another of your beautiful posts. I’d love to take credit for your being such a wonderful writer but I know that the talent was always there. Do follow your dreams. Write that cook book and perhaps another about this whole experience. I’m sure many would benefit from your insights and honesty. I do.

  • Nicki

    How poignant…how touching…what great strength…what grace….what love….May the moon continue to shine upon you and your girls as you dream big and leap!

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    Jennie you are amazing and beyond inspiring. You give words to the things that so many people won’t ever in their life get to feel, which is the kind of Love shared between you and Mikey.
    Most people will never even know a love like that, some may, and it may be quick, some will get to be enthralled in it forever, and others, like you, will loose it all too soon. But you give that love a voice, thank you.

  • Stephanie

    how could you possibly leave behind someone who is so intrinsically a part of you? go for it. dream big, bigger, biggest. even though we have never met, and probably never will, i am sending strength, hope and good luck your way. thank you for sharing.

  • Wine Dog

    The posts you’re writing since his passing have been such a loving memorial to a life well lived. They will be with you forever.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Louisa T.

    Wow. Just wow. After shedding many a tear today in remembrance of the many people lost this day, 10 years ago, your post was the first thing to make me actually smile. I have continued to check here daily to see how you might be doing. How moving it was to be able to smile at your resolve, your renewed hope in life. There will be many bad days still to come, but it is greatly inspiring to watch you also realize that hope is possible. New Yorkers are a resilient people and you and all of your “neighbors” are proving that hand over fist today. I am in awe.

  • Maria

    Your posts impact me deeply. They are poetic, honest, heart-wrenching and inspiring. I’m moved by your courage to honor and express the wide range of ensuing emotions. Thank you for sharing this experience, for grounding me during times of struggle, and reminding me the active choices we make in response to life.

  • Jennifer

    I was very young, and far less wise than you, when my first true, sweet love was killed in a tragic car accident. My world collapsed, and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling normal again.
    Those around me, while well meaning, wanted to package my grief in tidy boxes with sensible bows: “Things happen for a reason,” “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,” “He’s in a better place,” and possibly the worst, “There are other fish in the sea.” I know now, it is terrifying to watch others live your worst fears, and the most well meaning people can trip over their own reactions, spilling the most unhelpful words of comfort.
    On another level, those who loved me didn’t want to see me in such pain; they wanted to find ways to make me feel better so I could move on. But I knew, out of instinct, from the moment he died, that I could never live deeply and wholly again if I did not honestly grieve my way through his death. Grief is not pretty, nor is it predictable, but I believe with all my heart that a full and rich life is on the other side of that process.
    The best of who I am today is a result of that love, and his untimely death. Nineteen years later, he is with me, but my life without him is abundant, full of joy, laughter and possibility.
    Your wisdom and strength are astonishingly clear. You are going through it, one moment at a time, and slowly but surely, you will get to the other side, with glimpses of grace along the way.

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    Jennie you are amazing and beyond inspiring. You give words to the things that so many people won’t ever in their life get to feel, which is the kind of Love shared between you and Mikey.
    Most people will never even know a love like that, some may, and it may be quick, some will get to be enthralled in it forever, and others, like you, will loose it all too soon. But you give that love a voice, thank you.

  • Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips

    Jennie you are amazing and beyond inspiring. You give words to the things that so many people won’t ever in their life get to feel, which is the kind of Love shared between you and Mikey.
    Most people will never even know a love like that, some may, and it may be quick, some will get to be enthralled in it forever, and others, like you, will loose it all too soon. But you give that love a voice, thank you.

  • Genêt

    Jennie, you’re a beautiful writer. I’m amazed how eloquently you put your deepest, most intimate thoughts into words especially during such a painful and challenging time. Although I’ve never met you, it’s obvious you have a strong, positive and life-loving character. Thank you for sharing yourself and your personal journey with the rest of us.

  • Ann

    Hi Jennie….this was a beautiful post. I’m glad you took that walk and took control of that “spot”. I read this amazing blog and then my husband read it. As always, we are thinking of you and glad you made that wish.

  • Morgan

    I hope that as each new day comes upon you, that shard of glad you write about dulls more and more. I don’t know you, but what you’ve gone through has made me feel you pain to some degree. I think about you and keeps you and your daughters in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Terry

    Jenny–Every time I come here to read your words, I leave a richer person. What you share is so important and I hope that you some day write this into a book for others. Love never dies and death changes a relationship , it doesn’t end it. You are moving forward with Mikey in your heart every step of the way. Dream huge–show his daughters what a wise man their father was to have chosen the best mother for them. Love from California.

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve just come to your blog recently and am so struck by the beauty, simplicity and rawness of your writing and how you convey both despair, joy and deep, abiding love. Really, I’m stunned by it. I’m not a stranger to grief and despair and find much wisdom in your words — may you find peace and ease —

  • Amy

    This is very beautiful. I recently found your blog and my heart aches for you as I read it. It generally brings me to tears. But what is weird is that I think I kind of need that. And I am thankful to you for sharing such healing stories.

  • Angela

    Beautiful post.
    You don’t know me, but I feel I know you through your blog. Thinking of you and your girls. x

  • Quay Po Cooks

    Jennie, so good to know you will dream big and leap. That is what Mikey would want you to do. Your girls will be very proud of you. I am sure your family, friends and your reader are too. HUGS

  • Tracey

    Good Morning,
    Let your “stars” carry you through your roughest moments, let them shine with love and everlasting brightness. I am praying for you still, sending you Mikey moments to brighten your day.

  • Kim in MD

    This is powerful writing, Jennie. As I watched the coverage of the September 11th memorial yesterday I thought of you often. Like you, thousands of families lives were changed forever in an instant that day. I watched a special on the widows and children of 9/11, and was happy to see that the children have grown to be wonderful young people, and most of the widows have found love and are happy again. They will never forget their husbands, but after such a horrible tragedy they are able to love and be loved again. I couldn’t help but think of you and what you are going through, and I know that you are strong and you will get through this and will find happiness again someday. Stay strong, Jennie.

  • Cheryl Mathews

    Dear Jennie, my husband died November 4, 2010. I feel your pain so deeply. You are blessed with beautiful children that are and always will represent your and Mikey’s love. You will never forget your time with him, but you will eventually feel better. Hug your babies and hold them close. I am sending you a big hug!!!
    “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.
    All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
    Helen Keller
    Hugs, Cheryl M

  • Caneel

    Oh ((HUGS)) – this post is so incredibly beautiful. I’m crying, so hard, yet again. I’ve been keeping you and your girls in my prayers, and continue to be amazed at the strength you show.

  • AmandaonMaui

    Oh Jennie, from the outside it’s so easy to say that you’ll make it through, and we know you will, but I can’t actually imagine the feelings you’re going through. The whole experience is unfathomable. It brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart for you, and for someday the possible loss I too may experience. I only wish the best outcome from all of this.

  • SuperBabe

    As someone who has gotten through tough moments in life by writing/blogging about them in hopes “they will not own me”, I am sending many thoughts of strength your way.
    Words cannot describe how my heart aches for you, but know that you are not alone, and as you can see from all the comments, many around the globe have been moved to tears by your loss and feel the loss with you.

  • joanne nixon

    every day that you wake up…is a day going forward. you will not be leaving mikey behind….he will always be with you in that special place in your heart…he will always be around in the things that you love…your girls…the first star….the full moon….the brooklyn bridge…everywhere you are,,,he is too…..
    thinking of you everyday and your beautiful girls…watching your posts and reading your beautiful words….keep on keeping on….

  • Kelly

    God was showing Himself to you that night in how the moon shone down. You can find Him in creation. Keep talking, we’re listening. Tell us more about Mikey.

  • Rachel White

    “My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.” ~ Jeremiah 24:6 ~
    Jennie you don’t know me but my name is Rachel White. I have just heard your story and I can tell you that I know the Lord has something good planned for you and your family and He can use even the very worst circumstances for His glory if you will only trust Him. I mean I know it may not seem like it right now and you may not even want to read what I am saying but God loves you and you family and has amazing plans for your lives. look at Jeremiah 29:11
    I love you and will be praying for you. Rachel

  • Barb @ WishfulChef

    This post is so moving… Your words are powerful and inspiring. I love walking across the Brooklyn Bridge but never have at night. Next time I go I’ll make a wish. My thoughts are with you and your girls.

  • Tiffany

    You may realize this with all the comments you must receive, but I have to say…you have touched more people than you realize with your heart wrenching story. You are in my thoughts and I am sending positivity your way so that you have the courage to keep leaping and dreaming.

  • Laurie

    Your words are magnificent. The shard of glass, I felt it. Your writing through this tragedy is so wonderful, I hope it is somewhat healing for you.

  • Lynne

    A friend of mines sent me a link to your blog. I want to say I am happy she did. I lost my husband 4/29/2011. I completely understand. Your words have such strength and courage. I am truly inspired. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Mattie

    my god. I have ot admit that I am always tempted not to read you new posts when i am going through the blogs I follow. But I always do. I always feel like maybe by sharing your pain it will make it a little easier on you. I cry every time and even as I write this there are tears on my cheeks. The pain you are in is heart wrenching. But to hear to hope in your posts makes you one of the strongest women. I konw that no matter how hurt you are now that you will come out of this ok. And that gives me hope for the rest of us. I now have someone to look up to if I am ever in even a little of the pain you are in now. thank you. thank you.

  • Jenni

    Hi Jennie- I first heard of you and your loss through a link to your peanut butter pie- I cried as I read your posts and just now as I read your more recents. My heart is both heavy and hopeful for you. My Mom died suddenly of a heart attack 13 1/2 years ago – I was numb for a long time but the love and laughter of family, friends, life did seep into the grief and it did get better over time, but I know it is an ache/emptiness I can’t describe. You are so brave to open your intimate world of pain and healing with us. I pray your writing and sharing brings healing to you. You and your daughters are in my thoughts. – Jenni

  • Judy

    Jennie, you are an inspiration to all of us. Your strength and your courage shine through, even though we can feel your heart breaking. Be strong for your kids and for yourself. I know it’s cliche, but times does help.

  • Kelly

    There is a blog called James Camden Sikes you should read. It’s named after an 8 mth old baby who died recently. The parents have been blogging about their grief.

  • Andrea

    I too found your blog after reading a peanut butter pie post on someone else’s blog, and my heart has been breaking for you and your girls. Your posts are such a beautiful tribute to your husband and family, and like everyone else has been mentioning, a testament to your courage as well. I’m sure you’re getting all sorts of recommendations of what to read/who to talk to/etc., so feel free to ignore this one (as if you need my permission), but in late 2005, I read The Year of Magical Thinking, which Joan Didion wrote in the year after losing her husband unexpectedly (it was one of the New York Times 10 books of the year). I found it beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, and moving. My 26-year-old brother died unexpectedly the next month, leaving behind his wife and two little kids–and I read it again and found it, of course, even more poignant. Anyway, for whatever that’s worth, thought I’d share. And if there’s ever something any of us strangers on the Web can do, let us know.

  • Emma

    Dearest Jenny,
    I know of the loss that you speak. As I am writing this for you I am thinking of my beloved Mikey who passed away this year also. My heart goes out to you and to your family. All I can say is keep dreaming and keep going. As time flows slowly without him it does get easier. Remember this, at least you have your children that are his as well. I don’t have that, 10 years married and no children. I expected to be married to him until we grew old and gray and now I am alone. Big hugs to you and to your little ones.

  • Elisa

    Jennie, I read you from Japan and I can’t wait for this leap and dream to lead you to more cooking, and a delicious life.
    You last lines in this post are so beautiful. As your willingness to dream is inspired in the beautiful memory of love, it reminded me of a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that says:
    “…let happy memories sustain you if your strength fails you, they are always there, and their current does not run backwards, even across foggy country it floats toward the future.”
    Missing your delicious recipes. You fan in the far East

  • Robbie

    Hi Jennie, I was going through food blogs and I just came across yours and saw this post and I got really touched.
    I just want you to know that I am sending you all my best thoughts to you and your family. Also that you have someone (all the way in Brazil) who admires your strength and courage.
    I wish you and your girls all the best, the happiness in the world, and that all your dreams come true.
    Hold on to the good things and to your beautiful girls and never ever give up. Keep strong.
    And cook. Cook the sad thoughts away and then cook some more. Put your mind into this beautiful gift you have.
    I am sorry for your lost.
    Lots of love to you and your family x

  • Deanna

    This gave me goosebumps. I was staring at the picture of the concrete you took and saw 4 squares – one for your and Mikey and one for each of your children. One square is in a different color – to represent your husband or you? Amazing strength you show in your writing.