a master plan

I snapped this shot on our last date. It was in the middle of the day, the same one when I took a picture of his wedding ring. I remember winding my fingers in between his, as our palms stuck together in the 102ºF moist heat of the day.

For some reason, I had an urge to capture that moment our hands were locked in time. 16 years of holding hands, walking down the street and I'd never had that urge, yet something compelled me to take out my iPhone that afternoon and document it. Perhaps the universe was sending me a sign, knowing that just 16 days later I'd never be able to hold his hand again.

Two weeks before Mikey died, a friend lost her husband. I remember reading the email from another friend in the wee hours of the morning. Mikey had stumbled into the living room before the kids woke, and I told him the news. He had a bewildered look on his face, squinted his eyes and asked how could it be true. We both shook our heads in disbelief.

Later that day I posted this update on Google+:

"It's always good to have a master plan in life. Call it a goal, guiding force, whatever you need to stay determined and focused.Then be prepared for the derailments. The times when life just doesn't work out the way you anticipated. The times when it seems most unfair, and you find yourself walking through some alternate reality, sure that the one you're living can't be yours because something went wrong. Something threw you off course. Those moments that rock you to the inner core, shake you in such a way that once the dust settles, you're left missing a piece of yourself forever. I can't imagine facing what has happened to a friend recently. All I can do is join our other friends and neighbors to help her heal. Help her in any way possible to find the courage to face each new sunrise, knowing that she can never go back to the way things were. None of us can take the pain away, all we can do is hold her hand as she navigates life in a way she never imagined."

Now I walk in her shoes, and all I can keep wondering is how did this happen to my life? When you lose a loved one to illness, there's a thread that links you to their thriving, living self and their inevitable death. This by no means is my way of saying I'd prefer Mikey to have suffered. In fact, as I ran down the block to find him collapsed on the sidewalk, he was already blue from the neck up. I had wondered how much oxygen he lost to his brain, and was worried he would live his life in a vegetative state. I wasn't worried about the burden it would add to my life—my thoughts stemmed from knowing he wouldn't want to live that way. He wouldn't want me to have to make the decision to pull the plug.

That all raced through my mind in a split-second. An hour later, the doctor entered the room I'd been whisked to in the ER. I looked at him and said "it's okay, you can tell me my husband is dead."

I waited to see his body one last time. As I entered the room, I looked at him on the hospital gurney. His olive skin had already started to pale. His forehead felt cool, no warmth or sign of life left in him. The fucking doctor was such an asshole he didn't even close his eyes. Those dark chocolate eyes that caught my breath in a crowded room were now glazed and bloodshot.

A body that had held me earlier that morning, and kissed my lips just hours before, was now a limp, lifeless corpse. And therein lies the reason I don't think the shock will ever wear off. He was alive, playing paddle ball at 3:00pm, teaching his daughter to ride her bike at 4:30pm, then dead at 5:52pm.

People are quick to say time heals, and it gets easier—even people who have suffered the loss of a spouse. That's hard to imagine. Day 42 feels sadder, tougher, more raw than Day 1. When it first happened, it was easy to convince yourself the whole thing was a dream. When the house is full of friends, bringing cartloads of food and ears eager to listen about your love story, the ache is soothed, or at least suffocated.

By Day 42, all your left with is the stark reminder that this really did happen. And each day that passes means you're one day further away from that warm touch that once made you feel like you were invincible.


  • julia knox

    i’m not sure it gets easier. i think that rather you learn to reformat, reshape, reconfigure your life. and while that allows for happiness and success, it certainly also means that there will be a mikey-shaped piece in your puzzle from now on. and in your daughters’ puzzles. and again, doesn’t mean that happiness is less, or not, just that everyting is different. that’s my take, based on my life and also on your amazing, powerful, eloquent, and succint offerings.

  • Megan

    Sending you love and light, even through the darkest times. Your writing is so raw and compelling. I hope, if nothing else, that it is cathartic for you. It may never “get easier” but you’re a strong woman, who continues to become stronger each day. Focus on that.

  • gardenbre

    You’re right.
    I refer to it as living life powerfully because I couldn’t believe how much energy surges through your body when you’re grieving. Just aiming myself in the right direction somehow got me where I needed to be.

  • Sharon Miro

    Well said.
    Nineteen years later, and I can still be knocked to my knees. Most times no, but sometimes, those hard to describe times, a smell or a song or something inconsequential will bring that loss back so vividly it takes my breath away.
    Healing, moving on, loving again, finding your own way to your feet again, doesn’t mean forgetting.
    And yes, there is that strange time after the numb wears off that is really hard. But you are blessed with gifts of self awareness, and the ability to articulate your feelings. These will see you thru.

  • kimberly/tippytoes

    A friend who lost her husband a few years back said that in many ways, six months after his death was worse than six days because the people around her had gone on with life and expected her to do so as well, even though she still felt the pain, as though it had just happened.
    Thank you for sharing. You and your girls continue to be in my thoughts.

  • Sarah

    Jennie, I hate that I found your blog because of your suffering. I’ve followed your story ever since my blog reader and twitter filled with messages and tributes of pies for Mikey and I’ve wanted to comment but wished so much it was about something simple like your tomato jam recipe, instead of something as heavy and heartbreaking this. But I just can’t continue to read your posts without telling you how strong, inspiring, and empowering your writing is and I’d like to thank you for sharing your healing process with a world of strangers. I feel like in the past I’ve let so many little insignificant hiccups in life get in the way of allowing myself to enjoy what really matters. So often it’s easy to just look forward to something big and exciting like a vacation or holiday and get annoyed by the everyday boring tasks standing between me and something better. However in the past month because of your words I’ve learned to not let a day go by without loving those around me and to count each day as a blessing. I wish your pain wasn’t the thing that taught me the importance of enjoying each day for what it is… A gift. I guess the only thing I can do is say thank you. I have no idea how or when any of this will get easier for you but it will. It must. I have to believe that your heart will smile again.

  • Victoria

    This is when you learn who your real friends are… the people who are still around now to try and help you figure out the pieces.

  • Svasti

    You didn’t just lose your husband. You also suffered trauma and shock. The death of a loved one is always hard, but when it’s so sudden and when the doctor is a total fucking asshole… that’s something else, not just grief.
    I know just how hard it is when the initial rush of support dries up a little. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s just that they can’t keep up the same level of support they first gave.
    But it doesn’t mean your pain has gone away or lessened. It’s way too soon for that, and as shitty as that is, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling even worse than on day 1. That’s just where you’re at right now.
    Jennie, I do hope though, that there are some heroic friends still giving you everything they can. And I also hope you can find a local group or two to join – bereavement support, trauma counselling. Things like that. Be with people who understand what you’ve been through because everyone else just doesn’t get it. Even if they sympathise. They aren’t seeing it from the inside.
    I also know that it truly does seem impossible to hear that time will help. It will, or rather it can. But only if you also do the work that’s needed to heal from your trauma, shock and grief.
    Of course, it’s probably too soon to really think about healing. You’re totally allowed to be where you’re at right now – in the hard part, the pain and the seemingly never-ending suffering. It’s not that I wish those things on you, but it is a part of the process.
    Keep on going. Keep breathing and cooking and writing. That’s all there is right now.

  • Sarah

    Oh Jennie, I’m so sorry. I can’t say anything to make you feel any better. You don’t know me, but I feel extremely close to your story. You have made me want to love more, live more, and stay as strong as possible. I wish I could erase time for you. I wish I could make you feel better.

  • Linda Madura

    You make me want to take your pain away. You touch my heart. I’m old enough to be your mother, and I have motherly feelings about you, your girls and what you are going through. I’m saying a prayer…that’s all I can do. My dear girl, I’m hurting with you.

  • Liz

    Dear Jennie,
    We don’t know each other and we live on opposite sides of the earth… But your story touched me. The sudden death of Mikey, I know, I know.
    It has been 9 years to the day that my boyfriend died suddenly. We were 22 at the time (22, with plans to buy a house, have babies, just got our first jobs…), had said goodbye in the morning. He went of to ride his bike and in the afternoon, we went to the youth organisation to be with ‘our’ kids.
    By the time I saw him again, paramedics were trying to save his life. I stood next to his best friend, holding a bag of perfusion solution.
    After 9 years, it still not only feels surreal, it is surreal.
    I’ve always been an optimist. Really, but there’s no silver lining to the story. Time heals? I moved on. The raw pain became a dull throbbing and is now very much subdued. I regret the loss of that very special man.
    I’m not bitter. I can honestly say I’m happy with my life, now. I have a new partner and a baby boy, a job, a house, friends. And the knowledge that I have to cherish the things I have. Every minute, every day!
    So, hang in there. You will never go back to how things were, but you will make a new live for yourself and the girls. He will always be missed, but there will come a time when accepting that he’s gone is a little less difficult.
    Be patient with yourself, you deserve that!
    All the best!

  • Móna Wise

    Hang in there. It is easier when you loose a loved one to a long (and sometimes painful) illness. My Dad (died age 50) had Leukemia for 6 years. We had those years to treasure our time with him. And we did. It is never easy. The only thing that will ease your pain, unfortunately, is time. Lean on those that are near and dear, and know there are many (not so near) that are praying you get all the strength you need to get through this very sad time of your life.

  • Brooke

    Jennie. I keep starting comments, then losing the resolve to leave them. My words feel so silly and hollow when weighed against the depth and breadth of yours.
    There are so many things I wish I could say to you. So many ways I wish I could remove the pain.
    But, mostly, I feel to thank you. Thank you for letting us weep with you, mourn with you. Thank you for sharing. All of it.
    Though I’m certain our digital offerings will never replace the tender touch of your beloved Mikey, please know you are not alone. You’ve let us in. And we, in turn, have taken you into our hearts, our prayers. Thank you so much for letting us. XO.

  • Paula

    The only thing I can promise you absolutely is this – you will feel joy again. You will laugh your ass off again. You will feel love again. Maybe not for a while, but I promise you’ll get there and I’m looking forward to reading about it.
    Until then, take good care.

  • Katie

    I didn’t start reading your blog until after Mikey died. It was your post on peanut butter cream pie that first brought me here. What keeps me coming back is the fact that I have friends right now dealing with their 16-month old son dying of leukemia. Somehow, reading about your pain, your grief, and your strength gives me hope that they’ll be okay. I’m sorry that you have to experience Mikey’s loss. He sounded like a wonderful husband and father. I hope that each day gets a little bit easier for you.

  • Becky White

    Jennie, I have found myself hanging on every word of your writings. How beautiful. I have lost my mother and father and think of them every day, but can not imagine losing my best friend and love of my life. It is so sad that death is a part of our beautiful lives, but how amazingly lucky you have been to have had a love of your life. Your words are beyond amazing and I hope you can find it in yourself someday to write a book on grief and how one can muddle through it. I have two friends that were best friends and they each lost their husbands and only sons in a plane crash one afternoon on their way to play baseball. They continued to get up every morning and put shoes and make up on, and I always wondered HOW? I so wish you luck and someday, happiness.

  • Randi

    This touch deep inside…Reminds me of how important it is to live now… You wright so beautiful and from youre heart <3 Lucky children who have you and can read this later <3 (sorry for my bad english) All the best <3 from Randi

  • Elissapr

    Reading your blog stirs so many emotions; on the one hand it maintains a connection bw us and you during this devastating time in your life; on the other hand, I feel like I’m eavesdropping into your private thoughts!
    All to say, that many of us who feel (virtually) close to you knew the hardest part of this journey is likely now starting. But? Through your blog we can maintain our connection to you and hopefully support you along the way. xoxo

  • Tammy

    How awful and true this is. All you can do is take one day at a time and hope to get though it with some unexpected moments of joy. It’s kind of odd how it used to be the other way around…getting through a day hoping not to face too many unexpected difficulties. I am sending you so much love and am ready to come on over with grandmas recipes whenever you are ready.

  • Winnie

    Jennie I don’t know what to say. I am rendered speechless by the beautiful and honest way you write about your pain. I just wish I could do something more than send you virtual hugs and words of support…
    JP’s Note: Winnie, you are doing exactly what a friend should do—sending me good wishes and offering the comfort of knowing I am loved.

  • Mimi

    Jennie whoever tells you that time can heal, doesn’t know jack, I lost my soul mate,(gosh I hate that term, but we really were) 34 years ago and I still think of him every stinkin day…just the thought of him brings tears to my eyes…
    all I have to say is heed your own advice…

  • Julie

    Jennie- I too found your blog thru the peanut butter pie (matt-bites). I posted a comment last week relating to your loss, as my dear David is in Heaven too. I feel led to direct you to an online site that has brought me understanding, comfort and peace for these past two years. It’s called Griefshare. Although the 365 once daily, messages won’t all apply to you and your loss I am so sure you will be blessed and counseled over and over again. Griefshare has been a real “friend” to me and some days has understood me better than anyone. Our stories can minister to others and I thank you for yours. No need to post this entry but I do hope you will check out Griefshare when you have a moment. I continue to keep you and your precious children in my prayers. They are the most important thing and yours and mine were fortunate to have had a wonderful father, albeit for too short a time…

  • Matilda

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    My dad died suddenly 7 years ago, when I had just turned 26. Experienceing that has changed me forever. I still miss him every day.
    I can so relate to what you write about a reason for why the shock will never wear off is that the person that is now dead was so alive just before. I feel the same about my dad. He was so alive. I had just met him (we lived in different cities). I had spent 5 days with him, we had talked and huged. And the next morning he was gone.
    When my dad died my friends told me to write, but I couldn’t. I am amazed by how you can write about what you are living right now. In your writing I see signs for the ways you are learning to live with the pain.
    I don’t know you, but I think of you.
    ps. English is not my native language, and I can just hope that there’s not to many misstakes above…

  • Tracey

    WOW!!!!!!! I am amazed at the beauty and earthiness of your words. Since I have experienced some of these same emotions, it brings up alot within myself, even though Tom has been gone for 7 years now. The finality of death will NEVER go away, and time does go on and you will feel BETTER in that same time. I do feel connected to you. I liked your Google response to your friend.How surreal it would apply to you in such a short time.I guess it happens to all of us at a time we never expect.It will make your life raw—-your life stopping while others carry on like nothing ever happened. That always amazed me… “How can they just keep on going? Why are they bringing me food when I can’t possibly eat?” Even cooking (amazing but true) was dead to me for awhile. Then I cooked again. Peace be with you….I like your strong spirit, even though I know it isn’t strong in the middle of the night and the most unexplainable moments. I am here if you need me……Tracey

  • Jennie from Cole Camp

    My heart aches for you and your girls. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers each day.

  • Jill

    You bring it home with your powerful writing. Your pain breaks my heart. Stay strong when you can, cry when you can’t. This sucks.
    Know you’re loved and supported by those, like me, who don’t know you except through your writing at this painful time.
    Embrace your children.
    Be well enough, for now.

  • Patsy Witchey

    I have so looked forward to your posts for about six month now. The stories and recipes have made me smile and prepare wonderful dishes. Now I look forward to your posts to make sure you’re still writing, still posting your thoughts. You make me grateful everyday for my husband, my children, their spouses and my grand daughters. Thank you for being strong. Know that you’re thought of continually.

  • anonymous

    thank you for being real. Sometimes it is out of our own pain, that we are able to help others with theirs. My heart goes out to you.

  • Carolanne

    Oh Jennie, even though we have never met, my heart aches for you! Please know that friends, family, and strangers alike are sending you many, many thoughts of healing and love.
    Continue to honor your process and be gentle with yourself.

  • Sarah

    As a little girl, I waited at the kitchen table around 6:15pm every day for my daddy to get home from work. Sometimes, I’d see him pull up in his truck and I’d hide behind our front door to jump out at him and startle him when he walked in. He acted surprised every time. He would walk in, throw his had on the head of one of his children and grab me from behind the door. After he died when I was nine, I kept thinking he was just away and he’d walk through that front door again. I knew he was gone, but something in me expected him to come back into my life anyway. He didn’t, but there are reminders of him everywhere now. We planted his favorite tree by our house the summer he died. I have a picture of him in my wallet and by my desk at work. 16 years later. Thanks for sharing what you’re going through. I can’t imagine sharing so much so openly.

  • joanne nixon

    thank you for sharing your grief in all of its beauty and awfullness. i am only sure that your emotions are on a roller coaster ride with no end in sight. and it is well to grieve, to reach out and touch it, hold it in your hands until the sharp edges smooth out somewhat. you will never forget mikey, of that i am certain….i am also certain that happiness will find you again….
    you are a strong person. i hope your friends keep you wrapped in a circle of support….
    holding you and your girls in my thoughts and in my heart….xxx

  • Diane

    I read your posts everyday an feel thankful that I have not had to deal with the lose that you are dealing with!
    I have lost close family members and I dont think we ever really heal from a death.
    I think we always have a hurt and an empty spot in our hearts for the person we lost.
    I think we just go on with life because we have to for our kids and ourselfs.
    There is a happiness to be found again sometime but a different one for sure. You will never forget the wonderful love you and Mikey shared nor would you ever want to.
    I’m sure you and your girls will keep him alive in your hearts.

  • SuperBabe

    I continue to send you healing thoughts… and thank you for continuing to share so beautifully. I truly belive writing is one of the best therapies there are… Hugs.

  • Elizabeth A. Summers

    I was given a book titled “Good Grief” after a loss. On one hand it had a lot of the usual stuff, but one thing that struck home with me was that sometimes, our friends and family…well-meaning…stopped talking about the person who died. And it talked about how painful that can be to the one left.
    You said it so eloquently in your last post…moving forward does not mean you leave Mikey, your husband, your best friend, and the father of your children – behind.
    I hope that there are always people dear to you who speak of him and your life with love and fondness and with ease. And I hope and trust that he is always close in some way – no matter how you go forward.

  • Kim in MD

    Sarah on 9/18/11 @9:05p.m. said-
    Jennie, I hate that I found your blog because of your suffering. I’ve followed your story ever since my blog reader and twitter filled with messages and tributes of pies for Mikey and I’ve wanted to comment but wished so much it was about something simple like your tomato jam recipe, instead of something as heavy and heartbreaking this. But I just can’t continue to read your posts without telling you how strong, inspiring, and empowering your writing is and I’d like to thank you for sharing your healing process with a world of strangers. I feel like in the past I’ve let so many little insignificant hiccups in life get in the way of allowing myself to enjoy what really matters. So often it’s easy to just look forward to something big and exciting like a vacation or holiday and get annoyed by the everyday boring tasks standing between me and something better. However in the past month because of your words I’ve learned to not let a day go by without loving those around me and to count each day as a blessing. I wish your pain wasn’t the thing that taught me the importance of enjoying each day for what it is… A gift. I guess the only thing I can do is say thank you. I have no idea how or when any of this will get easier for you but it will. It must. I have to believe that your heart will smile again.
    With tears streaming down my face I say “ditto from me”. I didn’t read your blog before Mikey’s death (I stumbled upon it when other bloggers were making peanut butter pie), but you have changed my life. I pray for you and your girls everyday…

  • Rosie

    It goes without saying that I am sorry for your loss. Now is the time to show your true grit. Pull up your socks and start living your life. Fake it till you make it! Cook something!

  • Gema

    You are so right in everything you say and I really thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and for showing us we shouldn’t take anything for granted. At the same time I have no words because I know nothing I can say, will make you feel better. But we are here, waiting for your posts, thinking of you and learning from you.

  • D Andersen

    Amidst the depths of your loss, please know that you have made an incredible difference in the lives of many who read your written words. I am reminded how important it is to tell the important people in my life that I love them every day – thank you for that. Your writing is going to be a wonderful tool in the healing process. My thoughts are with you and your girls.

  • Louisa T.

    While we have all lost special people in our lives, this means next to nothing to you at this time. You have to do whatever it is you have to do to get through each day. One foot in front of the other from morning to night and then start over again the next day. You will some day wake up and those steps won’t be quite so difficult. Walking down the same sidewalk won’t tear your heart out, seeing a sunset won’t twist the gut quite so badly. When will this happen you wonder? Nobody can tell you that. Each of us grieve in a very different way. Life will go on, as you are finding out, but it will go on very differently as you have said. The single biggest source of joy right now are those girls. As heart-breaking as it is seeing him in their every step, look or gesture. Dance with them. Help them to remember every little thing you can think of and he will remain forever with each of you. And when it becomes overwhelming, cry together. Let them see you grieve and they can then see as you move forward and they will learn to do the same. For now though, you must simply get through the day and hope that tomorrow will be a better one and if not, then the next one will be. As someone else said, you will laugh your ass off again. You will love again. You will live again. In time. I wish you peace and restful sleep tonight.

  • Lib

    I lost my 29 year old son in a tragic accident. The emotions are hard to explain – I felt empty and angry at times and the grief hurt physically. I didn’t want to feel that way forever and at the same time I was afraid that it would get better and I would forget him – like I said hard to explain. A coworker stopped by my office about three weeks later and told me that he and his wife had also lost a son as a young adult and that in counseling he and his wife were told about the stages of grief that you would go through. What he wanted to share with me is that my husband and I would go through those stages of grief many times – sort of like a spiral with the circles gradually getting larger and more spread apart. Each time I go through a stage I understand it a bit better and it is not quite so raw. The regrets and tragic memories are fewer and I am able to spend more time with happier thoughts. I don’t think an day goes by without him in my thoughts. It has been nearly 5 years and sometimes think of very happy funny times and sometimes I am very angry – because this was just not part of my plans – or his either for that matter. I am so sorry – but you will have good days again.

  • robynski

    I will never say that. The day my brother died is still as raw as ever. I tear up writing this and it’s been almost thirty years. And, he was my brother, not my husband. So I have an inkling but absolutely no idea of how you are feeling.
    You’ll ask yourself why doesn’t the world stop? Take notice? This amazing person died. He’s gone. And you all are still shopping, eating, gathering and going on with life.
    Yes. That’s the kind of stuff that happens. I’m glad you have sweet memories. I cling to mine for certain.
    Hugs to you and yours.

  • Lan

    Like many others, I started following you after I heard via Twitter about Mikey and, even though we’ve never met, I find myself thinking of you often. Everyone heals in their own way and I wish you and your girls the best. After my mom died, I read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It helped me sort out my own grief process (waking myself up in the middle of the night crying, realizing in my dreams that she’s really gone, etc) by reading someone else’s experience of grief.

  • pam

    I lost my husband suddenly, heart attack (although I’ve often wondered why they call it a heart attack. His heart didn’t attack him it simply stopped beating. Fucking heart.) And it Does get easier. I can’t tell you what day but it will. One day you’ll wake up and not feel like you’re smothering. Then you’ll feel lighter. And then… and then…
    A little hope….

  • Shelli Heinemann

    Jennie, just a few thoughts. First, much like Sarah who posted above, I found your blog (and learned of your loss) when a web foodie I follow made pies for Mikey. It’s an odd way to discover someone, for sure, but I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.
    After I found you I read your blog word for word, with focus and interest, because what you shared about losing Mikey made my heart ache terribly, but also filled me with a beautiful joy and a gratitude and even, a lightness. And in the end what happened inside of me is that your story somehow changed my life. That’s a dramatic admission, I know, but also absolutely true. It changed my life.
    That day I told your story to my husband, a therapist, describing the aching depth of your grief and the brightness of your love and most of all, sharing the critical importance of your message that we mere mortals would be wise to take nothing for granted and to appreciate it all, every moment we are given with those we love.
    We think ourselves mature and adult and educated in all the ways insightful, psychologically-minded people do, my husband and me — but like most marriages ours is subject to (sometimes long) moments of angry distance and indignant posturing, and your reminder of just how wasteful those postures and distances really are was a wallop to the gut and a wake-up call for us both.
    I’m going to take a picture of my hand entwined with my beloved’s tonight, and I’ll remember how lucky I am — because you reminded me — and send you a million silent thank you’s for bringing your pain and wisdom into my life, each of them infused with all the empathy this stranger’s heart can generate.
    It’s an odd thing to say, I know, but I want to thank you for so bravely sharing your pain with the world. I think you’re helping people become better and more in the process, Jennie. I think maybe you’re improving lives. I hope that’s at least a tiny consolation.
    Thinking of you.

  • Tristen

    Well said. Awful and true. Life is SO painful when it just STOPS in it’s tracks. One moment projecting forward, the next with it hurtling in reverse, smashing all of your hopes and dreams under it’s ruthless tires. I’m so sorry for your loss, so so so sorry. It could be any of us at any time and thank you for sharing your words. Who knows but we will be standing up next to you with a similar fate sooner than later. Thank you for sharing your pain, I am so sorry. Perhaps you can tell us how your daughters are coping? Do they understand?

  • Kelly

    I, like so many others – worldwide – are following your every word. I break down in tears everytime and wish childishly life had an “undo” button. Your love and life with Mikey seems rare indeed. I am sure you are sick of words like “strong” and “inspiring” but what you unknowingly are doing through your eloquent, succint words is making us all recall a past loss – but remembering the joy – or imagine with dread such a loss occurring – but are reminded that “Life is short – Eat dessert first” (or “life is short. Use the damn butter”). Day by day, word by word, you will get through this to laugh again, love again and enjoy life.
    Thank you for sharing this hard time in your life. You are making us all a little stronger.
    Love to you and your babes.

  • Susie

    I am so sorry for your loss – you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that someday peace will find you, until then my heart will break for you everyday.

  • Silvana

    Jennie, I was delighted to discover your blog about a month before the passing of your beloved Mikey. I loved your writing style and the creativity of your recipes. I was so saddened at the discovery of your loss. Your writing is a gift that has touched the hearts of so many. When you write you open your soul and reveal the true meaning of life to us all. As you share this difficult time through your heartfelt words we are all learning life lessons and wiping our tears away right along side you. Blessings to you and your precious daughters.

  • Michelle

    Jennie, I have not before commented on your blog as I am a new reader, but I just want to tell you that I am so sorry for your loss and your pain. I can understand the pain that comes with losing a loved one. I wouldn’t say that time heals it. I cringe when I hear that because even 10 years later I smell something that brings the memories crashing so hard it brings me down without a moment’s notice. But I am able to enjoy life and find its goodness. So rather, I believe that the loss remains the same and it’s the manner in which we learn to deal with it that changes. It’s a process to get to that point though and it does take time. Life is so busy and it just keeps going even though our loved one isn’t here anymore—how is that possible? But it’s true. And really, all we can do is keep moving too. Keep going forward on the path. I also lost my father as a child. From that perspective, your children will need you in a different way now than before. Even though we don’t know each other, I have read enough to know how strong you are and how fortunate your kids are to have a mother such as you to help them, not just through this tragedy, but to hold them and guide them as long as we are fortunate to be together in a life that is just way too short. I am so sorry this happened to you and your family. Wishing you all the love, light and peace. . .

  • Terry

    My sister in law’s voice quietly told me on the phone that she feels that each passing day takes her farther away from her last day with my brother and the life they shared. Eight months out she is still in deep grief and she has every right to it. How does anyone get over losing the person who put a post it note on her Christmas gift saying “You are my whole world.” The note is on her fridge, she talks about him in every conversation and she will grieve in her own way and time which is exactly what anyone should do. Your writing is profound and you are brave to share your pain. I wish that each person who writes here could take a small piece of your pain and help you carry that load. xoxo

  • kelly

    Dear Jennie, you are so brave to let us share in your journey. I check in on your blog all the time as a means of checking in on you. I wish this had never happened to you and your lovely family. I hope you have a team of wonderful support around you to help hold you up. My best friend passed away suddenly in a car accident and I was the last one to hug him and kiss his cheek as we said our goodbyes. I can honestly say the only thing that helped was time. Now I can smile when I think of him instead of cry. I hope time can heal your heart quickly. Your love story has touched us all. You have taught me time and time again to savour every precious moment we have. xo

  • Hinna

    Julia nailed it on the head. You don’t move on per say, but rather adjust to this new reality. The hole in your heart will always be there and you will always be reminded of the loss on holidays and other happy occasions. However, I do know that something deep inside does help you to eventually pick yourself up and keep moving.

  • Maria

    I’m amazed weeks before Mikey’s death you wrote that entry, and took the photo of your hands. Moments from the past foreshadowing the future. I’m deeply sorry the days have gotten harder. I click on your blog often to check in on you and send cyber love and support. Please keep posting.

  • Cheryl Arkison

    Um, maybe this is inappropriate, but your comment about the doctor not closing his eyes hit home. When my Dad died this spring my brother was the only one with him. He called me, I woke my Mom, picked up my sister and we went to the hospital for some sort of goodbye (to something we knew was coming anyway). My brother and his wife were in the room with my Dad. And Dad’s eyes were open. The blank stare of catatonic death was creepy and uncomfortable. We pushed my brother and more or less teased, “Come on, you couldn’t close his eyes?!” Oddly, we all laughed as he started to cry saying that he’d tried. Maybe we’re a sick family, or maybe we had to find levity in the stubborn old man finding one last thing to infuriate us.

  • will

    I think the hardest part of losing someone is that life continues to go on as normal. When it first happens (like you said) ppl surround you and you are busy with planning…but after a few months everyone has gone back to their reality and your reality can never be the same. Time does help (like ppl are telling you) but that void and love of him will always be there. You just get used to a different reality and push forward for your kids and knowing that your hubby/love (whoever you lost) would want you to have a happy life and not put your life on hold the moment theirs ended.
    You can be sad. You can be angry. But you will feel joy again. You have to feel to heal.
    My thoughts are with you- and reading your blog brings tears to my eyes b/c I’ve been there. Takes me right back.

  • Natasha

    Hi Jennie, I’m a new reader, having come across your blog whilst looking for a cake recipe. Just wanted to say how sorry I am and that I hope you can move forward with your life. My auntie has just become a widow and she is struggling with the same problems, but has no children to have to be strong for. I wonder which is better. Hope you don’t mind me messaging, your post was just so touching.

  • Julie

    I have to come to realize a long time ago, there are no right words. I’m willing to listen. You can call me anytime…I’ll DM you my phone number. Hugs to you and your girls.

  • Allison Zapata

    So well put. I lost four loved ones in a plane crash a few years ago. It got worse for a while b/c I was so angry that life went on all around us. That someone else would live in their house. That people were laughing and carrying on and oblivious to the pain we were all feeling.
    I cry less now. Our whole family has found a new way of living. But, when I am a alone and I think of what happened. It’s still such a punch in the gut, just like that dreadful day it happened.
    I’m so sorry for what you and your sweet girls are going through. Your words are truly beautiful…Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. It will help others.
    So much love….

  • robin

    I work in a hospital, actually an intensive care unit. I see death everyday. Raw unglamorized nasty death. And yet I still walk around like it cant happen to me but isnt that how we all get thru it? It sounds as if he lived his last day well. What a gift. Im glad he had a good last day:)

  • Kathy

    I don’t know if this is the right thing to say to you or not. I have read about your loss and feel your pain (as much as one person can feel that for another). My heart breaks into pieces for you and for myself because “what if I’m ever you.” Whether you care, whether it matters. You have made a difference in my life. I have loved my husband a little more. I have hugged my husband more often. I have spoke to him with more kindness. I have lived each day like it could be our last. Your sharing your pain and loss with me has helped me renew my appreciation for what I have. To not let a moment go by that I don’t take the opportunity to make it special. I know that someday we are all going to be you who have a significant other in our lives. One day either my husband or myself will be facing a new day without the other. The difference you have made is that what we do between now and then has changed. You have touched my life. Right now that may mean little to you and who could blame you. But that is ok, because in my world it means everything.


    there simply aren’t any words that will comfort you, soothe you or bring peace to you at the moment Jennie . . . i wish with all my heart, there were . . . i wish i could wave my fairy wand and all of this would disappear and things would be the way they were more than 42 days ago . . . i wish you didn’t have to walk this road . . . i wish you didn’t have to be a single mom right now . . . i wish so many things Jennie . . . i wish i had the power to change it all . . . but i can’t. all i can do is stand along the sidelines waiting for you to ask, waiting and watching to see if you need something – a hug, a laugh, to be silent and do nothing but listen, to be your cheerleader, your encourager . . . all of these things and many more . . . there is another side to this and the journey is hard and long . . . you will get there Jennie . . . even if we, who love you, must carry you part of the way . . . you are going to get there . . . that i do promise . . .

  • Koru Kate

    My Dad died suddenly when I was 13 & I remember the same feeling as time passed. Every day just took me further & further from the last time I saw him smile & laugh. 21 years later, I still feel that way sometimes. I’ve learned to live with the loss but I will never get over it. May love & comfort find you during this difficult time.

  • SKL

    Your posts are so honest and heartbreaking. It must take a lot of strength to write them. Sending you love and healing in this time of grief.

  • Sarah C.

    Just after my mom died (early, suddenly, and cruelly), I enjoyed the briefest moment each day waking up when I somehow didn’t remember that she was gone. And the minute the memory reminded me, I broke. Every effing day. Now, 4 years later, I know every moment of every day that she’s gone. Neither better, nor worse. But at least it’s less jarring.

  • Dana

    I lost my best friend in the whole world a few years ago. I still expect the phone calls I would get every morning, first thing in the morning. Its one of the hardest parts of the day, not when I realize that it isn’t going to come, but when I realize how long I have been expecting these phone calls to come, and not having them do so. It’s impossible, but we muddle through. Sending you my love, Jennie. xoxo

  • Leanne

    It wasn’t until January of this year that I found your site, but I quickly became a fan.  Of course, your delicious recipe offerings kept me coming back but it was even more so the poetic rhythm of your writing.  While I’m not certain that my comments today will be meaningful to you, I feel the need to post them nevertheless.  I am so very sorry for your loss.  While I have lost people in my life to death, and many of them, I am certain that I cannot begin to imagine how it might feel to lose my husband, my lover, my best friend, my confidante, my babies’ father, and my housemate so suddenly, so unexpectedly, and so young.  I am still drawn to your voice and I pray for you often. I hear the authenticity of your sorrow and can feel the rawness of your heartbreak.  For me though, since your Mikey’s passing, it didn’t seem right anymore to pass silently in and out of your life, like a voyeur, reading your passages as though it were your mind, without telling you how I wish it were different for you. Today, I remembered your own passage from April of this year where you spoke of happy endings.  I pray that someday soon you will be able to begin to imagine that peace and resolution for yourself and you will be able to move beyond this terrible pain to your own happy ending.

  • Elaine

    It has been nearly 7 years since the most important man in my life passed and there are moments a line in a movie still brings me to tears. The wound is not so raw anymore, but the ache still comes at unexpected moments.I was not there to see him because he was overseas and before I could book the flight he was gone; I don’t know if that was a blessing or a curse. The best solace I can offer to you is that I am happy in my life now and that was an unimaginable thought for years. You don’t have to know how it will get better as long as you keep living the life he would have wanted you to live, it will be better.

  • web design London,

    . I think that rather you learn to reformat, reshape, reconfigure your life. and while that allows for happiness and success, it certainly also means that there will be a mikey-shaped ..I feel like I’m eavesdropping into your private thoughts!..

  • Renee

    Just before you lost your husband, I lost my mom. She had had cancer off and on for the last 5 years, but in the end it went so quickly. People who aren’t there….don’t understand… they want to, but they don’t! I am sorry for your loss! My heart goes out to you.

  • Amanda

    I imagine in some ways the only way to keep breathing is to forgive yourself the very harsh reality that it won’t ever stop hurting.
    It is not my story and yet I keep coming back hoping to change its course.
    So much hope and light wished upon your family.

  • Elizabeth

    My heart aches for you, Jennie. No words can fill the void in your life, but I pray you feel God’s comfort in your days to come. I recently went to a funeral for an 18 young girl and the minister quoted, “Death leaves a heartache, which no one can heal…love leaves a memory, which no one can steal.” Your memories will last; keep writing.

  • Rachel Willen@FoodFix

    Just poised here with my hands over the keys knowing anything I say will be hollow. Keep writing. It helps. What you posted on Google + helped me this morning with something I’m going through…so thanks…Do some cooking, get back to what feeds you….(again…who am I to tell you…but it’s what helps me…)

  • Bevi

    Every post you write is so thoughtful. If I were in your situation, I don’t think I could process it as eloquently and truthfully as you do. I lost my best friend and soulmate 6 years ago. We were like brother and sister to each other, and finished each others sentences, and thought each others thoughts. He took his own life, and only very few times have I allowed myself to delve into my feelings. I think you are touching many people who have reckoned with death, and in doing bringing us closer to facing and confronting our demons. You are so brave.
    I have been making your tomato jam relentlessly, and I think of you and your family while I do so.

  • Kristin

    Your strength is amazing. I cannot imagine what you are going through. Your daughters are so blessed and lucky to have you for their mother.

  • Kristina

    I’ve been reading your essays and meaning to comment since that first heartbreaking post but I just can’t come up with words enough. I’m so sorry, and for what it’s worth, your posts make me take pause and remember to be sweeter to my husband, even if I’m busy. Life IS short.

  • Kamaile

    I keep coming back to read your writing which is so eloquent and interesting to read because my Dad died suddenly when I was 28 (my Mom a year later)and I know she had these thoughts too but didn’t know how to express them. Grief sucks but I echo some of the comments that you will of course never forget but you will laugh and remember the good times. Thinking of your and your daughters.

  • Stephanie B.

    Jennie, I was just passing by on my search for a nutella recipe and stayed to read your current posting. When I read your heartbreaking post, I stayed for a while. I just wanted to write and simply say “I’m so, so sorry.”

  • Kelsey

    I, like many other readers as well, have wanted to comment but felt like what I had to say wouldn’t be enough to make anything better and/or easier for you. My heart aches for you. My heart aches for your girls. My heart aches for Mikey, as his life was cut way too early and unfairly. Through all of this, you have inspired me. The love story with my husband is just beginning and while I hug him every night, I’d like for you to know that I always think of you and Mikey. Your love story lives on in us. While we have never met, I will carry your story in my heart and it will remain there. For it is you & Mikey who have taught me so much about the harsh reality and the old comforts of life. Please stay strong & know that you are being heard, felt for, and genuinely cared for.

  • C.D.

    Just like many others I came across your blog from others and like million others I to have lost people in my life. It does not matter the circumstance, tragedy,length of sickness,etc., each one is just as hard & brings us to our knees. Just recently, i was the one standing by my husband’s bedside grasping his hand & wondering if his “I love you” was going to be the last one & not wanting to think about how he may never see our 4 month again. I cannot tell you how it felt to be standing there in conversation with him but not knowing if this was the last second I would have w/him. I believe we have paths made for us to walk & at times our paths can be hard to follow. You can never say you walk in someones shoes.. You don’t walk their circumstance, their path. You walk your own!
    Today, my husband can see his daughter & he tells me every second he gets that he loves me. Am I lucky? There is not a moment that goes by when i look at my husband that I’m not hit w/how I felt that day or how things might have been different or how I made it through or how I had a 4 month old that never would have known her daddy. Yes, I’m lucky, but it doesn’t make it any easier!!!

  • Paola Piras

    I don’t know you, you don’t know me. We live at the opposite sites of this big world. I don’t have children, but I got a husband: sometimes we have good days, somethimes no. But we love each other. I read your latest post accidentally, coming from another blog, and I spent all the morning of a working day reading your older posts…. What can I say? Any word you think, and than you write is just another step for reach again a deepest smile upon your face….Your a strong woman, a good wife, a special mother. Be fearless, Paola from Italy

  • Mary Sue

    I have never lost a husband, so I can’t completely understand what you are going through… But, I did lose a boyfriend once. It IS harder once the immediate grieving period is over and loved ones leave and you are left to live your life. I read a book for young widows around that time. It told the story of a woman who, after going back to work after her husband’s death, would take “breaks” every hour to cry in her car for five minutes. She said eventually, she could just cry at lunch, and then not at all. That image of a woman needing to cry every hour made me so sad, and yet a little less lonely. I hope that you have found a way to feel a little less lonely during this time.

  • Margie

    checking in to check on you. You are in my thoughts, often. I am at a loss for any words that might comfort. It is my hope that you find a hug written within my post.

  • Debbie Whalen

    Sadly, I know the pain. It has been 1,149 days since my husband, Mike, was pushed off of our deck and died as a result of the fall. He was 40.
    I remember people telling me that time would be my friend. I thought they were all crazy. But – time has been an amazing friend to me.
    Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, ache to hold him or hear him, but now it is with a heart of love and no longer feels like a broken one. Thank you time.
    I’ll be here, thinking of you and sending you thoughts of friendship and time. If you ever need to talk, you can reach out to me. xoxo

  • Sally

    I’ve not lost a husband, but I’ve lost both of my parents and both were rather young when they died. It’s been decades now and still, on occasion, something will happen that brings back the memories and brings tears. Fifteen years after my mom died, my first child was born and I cried for my mother that day. Not only did I want her there with me, I was crying for the grandmother my child would never know except through my memories of her.
    Jennie, I understand how you must have felt when Mikey’s eyes weren’t closed. I’m a nurse and I’ve worked in critical care and hospice. I’ve witnessed a lot of death. Far more often than one would think, eyes won’t stay closed. Possibly we’ve been influenced by the TV/movie version of someone closing a deceased person’s eyes and expect that they stay closed. It wasn’t insensitivity on the part of the doctor or anyone else.

  • Lauren wood

    My heart goes out to you. I just cried my eyes out reading this, I cant imagine what your going through…I am so sorry for your loss and everything you are going through, you and your family are I’m my prayers.