what lies ahead {day 144}

It seems fitting to talk about pizza on this very last post of 2011, for it's how I started 2011 when it dawned almost a year ago. Pizza is something we take very seriously here. Years ago, I started the tradition of Pizza Fridays. It seemed we always ordered on Fridays, and as cooking from scratch became an obession, it just made sense to start making it myself too. It was never about taking a break from cooking, it was about creating more family time.

Our usual routine was to curl up on the couch, pies strewn across the coffee table as we settled in for a movie. In the last year, Mikey often came home from work as the movie was winding down, but his first bite of pizza always elicited the same reaction. He'd close his eyes, take a deep breath, then sink his teeth into the crispy crust. Next came an exhale, then he'd open his ebony eyes and say "damn, how do you do it!".

I miss him more than I can ever convey with mere words.

This past week, I've felt numb and in shock all over again. I stare at his pictures, desparately remininding myself that our life together wasn't a dream. How is it in just 144, he seems so far away. We spent more than 5,000 together, yet each one that passes since August 7th feels like someone is slowly taking an eraser to the blackboard of my life.

It's like a slow, painful shake of an etch a sketch, as I scramble, trying to cling to each moment of every memory, knowing they have to last a lifetime.

In my most desparate moments I retreat to the kitchen. It is the only place I feel normal and in control of my life.

ChickenCutlets OysterMushroomRagu

Hanukkah2011

FinalPizzaFriday2011 Doughnuts2011

On Christmas morning, I set my mind to making Mikey a cake. A glorious coffeecake flecked with bits of pear and adorned with an allspice pecan crumb topping.

Photo

This morning, I had a challenging day ahead of me, so I set out to make a breakfast Virginia and often enjoyed. Nothing fancy, just poached eggs, toast and apple slices. Okay, maybe the fresh squeezed blood orange juice upped the fancy ante, but anyone can make orange juice. The point is, this simple homemade breakfast nourished more than just my belly.

Dec30Breakfast

When Mikey was alive, he used to walk Isabella to school while Virginia and I got a slow start to our morning. We'd watch The Cat in the Hat while poking at the yolks on our poached eggs. She remembers those mornings vividly, and recalled them today as we sat at our new table and dipped toast into the pools of yolk.

Mikey is not here in the physical sense anymore, but we can continue to live many parts of our lives as we did before. The challenge is not to focus on the gaping hole in every memory.

I thought I had that under control until Hanukkah and Christmas came along. I know I will get back on the saddle come January, but right now I just want to stomp my feet like a toddler. I don't want to turn the page come 12:01 on January 1st.

I don't want to face a year in which he will have never lived.

Never laughed.

Never held me.

Never kissed me.

And yet I have to, so I move forward with a line from my favorite Christmas movie in my head:

"I believe, I believe, it's silly but I believe."

I made a commitment to dream big, so I'll float into 2012 with an open mind and hope my heart follows.

69 Comments

  • Melissa

    Happy New Year, Jennie! May 2012 burn the memories deeper and make your heart lighter. Sending you peace and happiness in the new year. XOXO

  • Heather Conklin

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Your words make me see so clearly what you are going through..yet I cannot imagine. I get the turning of the year. I know it is hard but there’s no stopping time. I think about you a lot. My daughter has a friend who is actually here tonight and tomorrow night. She is 12 like Graysen. She lost her father this year and I just don’t know what to say. I think about you and your posts when I am around them. Stay strong, Jennie. Take care..hugs..Heather

  • Angie

    This is exactly the way I felt when I entered into 1997 – leaving behind 1996 the year my husband died. We had only been married 3 months when he died of a heart attack at 42. I remember the dread of facing a year he had never lived. I will never tell you it gets easier – I hated when people told me that. I hold you in my heart, you and your daughters. I have never met you and most likely never will but we are connected, sadly.

  • elizabeyta

    This touched me. Dream big and soar. If you need to retreat at times and regroup do. Sometimes, you need to stomp your feet and shout at the heavens as well. (((hugs)))

  • Heather in SF

    I’m wiping tears from my cheeks as I read this. I wish next year is a good one for you and your girls. The road of grief is a long one but some days it is easier to tread.

  • Cindy Rescigno

    Jennie, I can’t imagine your pain, but I admire your strength more than you could ever know. I hope your memories comfort you in the days ahead. Cindy

  • Jacqueline

    I want for you every big dream that you dream to come true. Most especially the one that simply can’t. You continue to touch me deeply with your powerful words. Wishing you continued grace and peace throughout the New Year.

  • Sonja

    Jennie,
    I am proud of how you’re forging ahead. I don’t know that in your stead I’d be as brave. We’ve had our own challenging year, but nothing that compares to what you and your little ones have been through. May 2012 and the years that that follow bring you peace, solicitude and a chance to watch your daughters grow and become your friends and companions. And, ultimately may the Universe grant that you and Mikey will be together once more. Best wishes from an-amateur-at-best home cook in Ontario, Canada! Sonja

  • Maria

    I can only imagine how difficult the holidays have been for you. Your absence from writing has not gone unnoticed, so I’ve been adding you to my prayers. May your big and little dreams come true in 2012.
    xo Maria
    PS I decided two days ago to have a bunch of friends over tomorrow night and I’m going to make my Sicilian grandmother’s pizza. I named my blog after that very line, “I believe.” It’s my favorite Christmas movie.

  • jennie

    Jennie, my heart is with you as you ring in this New Year. I think of and pray for you daily, hoping the journey gets better, easier with every step. And although sometimes it feels as if you are falling backwards, I am just one of many who are here to help you back up. Wishing I could lend a hug and a smile, but all I can offer is hope for your New Year.

  • Kathy

    I read every one of your posts. I actually look forward to them when I check emails and there is one from you…just to know you are out there and ok.
    Thank you for reminding me what is important in my life.
    I wish you and your girls only the best for 2012 – keep fighting for yourself and for your loved one.
    Kathy

  • Rose D., Frenchtown, NJ

    This post gave me a huge lump in my throat. My heart is filled with love for you and the girls. 2012 will bring many new, unexpected things but I think it’s beautiful that you continue with the traditions that you and Mikey had! Sending big, warm hugs to you today. ~rose

  • Maria

    You can do it Jenny, one day at a time…find strength in the love that you shared, you need to stay strong for your girls, they need you. Trust me I know of the love you miss, I miss mine as well, I cannot think of him without tearing up, to this day and it is over 32 years. People say that time heals I say Bull S#%&, it only gets easier because you know you have to get over the grief or you will not be able to go on…2012 will come, you will be fine because your Jenny Perillo, and you are a strong determined woman Happy New Year…we will go on…

  • Dottie

    Hugs to all the Perillo girls! May 2012 bring you happy days, fresh experiences, and may your special angel watch over you with a smile as you make new family memories. Good days lie ahead!

  • Sheilah Lowe

    I cannot imagine what you are going through. Just know my thoughts and prayers are with you. Wishing I could just give you a hug. Wishing you and your girls all the very best in the New Year.

  • amy

    Jenny, You are so strong and I know that is something you don’t want to hear but you are. This time of year is a hard time and someday it wil be better. So Dream BIG and hug your girls and remember we all love you.

  • Sandie

    Please remember Mikey is still with you. He’s there watching you and the girls. I truly believe this. I know how hard all the first’s are, will be, since I’ve gone thru them myself. But keep talking to Mikey. He’s there listening. Loving all of you forever.
    It’s been 5 1/2 yrs since I lost my husband; seems like a life time and seems like just yesterday. Prayers are always coming your way from many of us.

  • Valerie

    I have been thinking lots about you and yours, Jennie. I wish I could offer more helpful words than those, but here in Indiana I am wishing you (continued) strength.

  • Tracey

    Jennie
    I have read your posts and have longed to just pick up the phone and hear your voice, not unlike how you would like to hear Mikes voice. It is amazing how time seems to fly by, yet stand still at the same time. The simplest of momcnts can take you back, propel you forward. Talk to him aloud, meditate. Have you ever felt him standing behind you? I have felt Tom, and it has been 7 years. Let me know.
    OOOO and a X Tracey

  • lori

    Dear Jennie,
    I hope that into your open heart and mind comes wonderful experiences and people unimaginable at this moment.
    Lori

  • Elizabeth

    Please allow me a selfish moment to make a plea to you … when you feel the quiet solitude of strength and fortitude seeping into your bones,think about writing a book. Any book. A novel. A memoir.
    You are gifted beyod measure with the ability to paint with words.

  • Angela

    Hi Jennie
    I hope that your new year has many moments of happiness in it. I will continue to follow you on your journey.
    Blessings,
    Angela

  • Megan

    I wish only love & peace for you & your girls in 2012.
    My mantra for those I’ve loved & lost:
    ~I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart~

  • Julie A

    I don’t know how to say what I feel when I read a new post from you. I’ve never met you, I’m not that great of a cook and I started reading your blog after August 7th when another blog I read talked about peanut butter pies. I now visit your blog daily, hoping that your next post will show some kind of healing in your heart. All I can tell you is that you will continue to be in my prayers as we go into the new year. May the new year bring you and your daughters peace in your hearts and continued healing.

  • susie m

    I am just one more person out in the world holding you in my heart as you enter this new year. Blessings and healing to you and your girls…

  • Sparrow Grace

    Your story is one of heartbreak, but also one of tremendous hope in the form of your children, and the way you write is so beautiful. With each new year comes a new beginning, whether it is welcome or not, and just know that there are all of us out here in cyber-world, who have never met you, but know your stories, and your food, and we are holding you and your family-your whole family-in our thoughts as we enter into this new time.

  • Terry

    Oh Jennie, you have captured some of the feelings I have been feeling these past several days as I head into the new year without someone I love. Thank you for your continuing heart felt honesty. Many of us are blessed by it.
    There will be bright beautiful new moments in 2012 and I know that you will embrace them along with the other sad and soulful ones.
    Much love to the Perillo girls.
    xoxo

  • zenchef

    Hi Jennie, It’s been a very tough year but I wish you a Happy New Year and a bright future ahead. Go for this big dreams of yours. Keep inspiring us all.

  • Denise-EPL

    Sending you much love and a big hug from Colorado. Your photos look like beautiful creations. The Pizza Friday tradition was born in my family about 48 years ago with my parents.
    I hope I get to meet you next year Jennie!

  • Rachel

    Hi Jennie,
    The memories might seem to fade because of the shock and grief, but keep doing what you’re doing and you will see that they slowly come back. Try not to worry about losing them – when you are old you will look back and see that your happy memories of being together are some of your most vivid.

  • katie k

    i have been a quiet follower of your posts for quite a while. i am so happy that you blogged again as i have been thinking of you and your family through out the holidays. hoping and praying that you and your girls find strength, happiness, and lots of smiles in 2012.

  • KiwiChefychic

    Hey Jennie,
    I have found myself over the past 2 weeks thinking of you often and wondering how you and your beautiful girls have been surviving the holiday season from Sydney Australia.
    Know what a privilege it is I feel that you choose to continue sharing your journey with your blog family and that this Kiwi pastry chef is sending you all much love,hugs and hope from my kitchen to you all.

  • Lanny

    My heart aches for you as my eyes brim with tears. I have never experienced such a loss as this, but vow to love my fiance as wholly as you love Mikey. Cheers. x

  • Jan Veenstra

    Jennie – Your blog has become a place I can go to read your words and feel like I have a bond with someone who is grieving their beloved. I lost my husband in June of this year and I have had so many of the same emotions you express. I don’t know how I’ve made it so far but just keep moving forward the best I can.

  • Judy

    Best wishes for a peaceful 2012. You and your girls deserve it. To paraphrase the poem-you carry Mikey’s heart in your heart!

  • Roz@weightingfor50

    Best, warm wishes for 2012 to you and your girls Jennie. May the year ahead bring you happiness, health, laughter and new traditions for you three that would make Mikey smile!

  • Kay Taylor

    My husband died in 2011 too. It is very hard to move into a new year. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday and I thought it would be the hardest, but it wasn’t. It’s the whole Halloween, (he loved the little ones in their costumes) Thanksgiving, (all the family together) Christmas, (always a real tree, no artificial one allowed) and now the new year. We didn’t go out, but he always kissed me and wished me a happy new year. I miss him so! May we find some measure of peace in 2012.

  • Vanessa

    Jennie – you write with such touching words. I’m sure the pain you feel is so great. But I’m sure your husband is with you and your girls every step of the way. I have visited your blog a few times since your loss and am always touched at your sincereness. I wish you strength and courage for 2012 and hope that many great things lie ahead for you and your family. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, 2012.

  • Kim in MD

    You have been on my mind so much during this holiday season, Jennie. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been form you and your girls. I love that you are starting 2012 with an open mind…I know your heart will follow!

  • katie {Epicurean Mom}

    Jennie, your words are increasingly inspiring and uplifting. You are strong, beautiful, smart and lively.
    Sending lots of love and hugs to you and the girls for 2012!
    xx from California!
    Katie {Epicurean Mom}
    P.s come visit us again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Eve Fox

    So sorry, Jennie. There’s no way around it – the holidays (and any special times that your family has always marked together) are just really tough. It’s also very hard when the rest of the world moves on and you’re still so much in it. I know someone who commented above mentioned that she hated being told it would get easier but I personally found that comforting (I lost my dad last year,and while I know it’s clearly not the same as losing your husband, I think grief takes a semi-predictable path for most people – and it does get easier to bear with time.) Try to remember that 2012 will also bring a lot of wonderful things to you and your girls, even though nothing can ever change the loss of your dear Mikey. Wishing you well. -E

  • Rebecca

    I lost my best friend this past year at the age of 26 and the pain feels like it will never end. I had the same thoughts going into 2012…that I didn’t want to experience a year that he wasn’t alive to experience. Thank you for your post, it spoke to me. I do not know you or your family but am sending you much love and hope for 2012.

  • Jeanie

    Jennie, the peanut butter bons bons were out of this world! Many thanks for the marvelous recipe. When you feel better, hitch your wagon to a star and dream BIG.

  • Mel

    Dear Jennie, it feels trivial to pen a response to this post. You have been through so much, and are still going through so much – but I pray that in the coming year your heart will be strengthened, continuously, and that laughter will hover by your lips each and every day. I think I am not the only reader who gains so much encouragement + inspiration from your posts.
    Thanks for sharing so honestly, and for writing so beautifully. Happy 2012!

  • Patty Ann

    Ah yes, the gaping hole is ever present, but does become softly woven – at times – so you can continue, and when you need it to. At 3yrs & 7mnths I believe it will always, in an instant, feel like yesterday and then a life time. And in that is mixed comfort & heartbreak. I too, float. It is a doable pace. And sometimes you forge ahead. This week I will make pizza dough with my daughter and create a memory – hopefully a tradition. Because I want to help her create a life where someday she will find someone who will love her so much they will say “damn, how do you do it!” Thank you Jennie.

  • Lena

    your posts have touched so many hearts and we will help make your life a life you will love to live. smell the flowers, look at the stars. buy a cup of coffee and walk down the street. what were the things mikey loved most about you? dont let those things go – carry them on into the new year with you and don’t stop being the person he knew you were capable of. i hope you have a happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

  • B Jensen (please don't post my name)

    I just stumbled on your post and want to recommend a wonderful tool – http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381
    I know that grief carves a unique path for all of us. One way I’ve found to lighten the sadness of a powerful loss is to find ways to celebrate their life by looking outward instead of folding inward. I bet the local firehouse or a service agency would love an impromptu pizza or pie delivery. You don’t even have to explain – you just knock on their door and they will joyfully accept it – it’s just a small way to turn some angst into a good thing, to take some energy and send it out to the world instead of sitting with it marinating, for me, the growing heaviness in my heart, avoiding the emotional tide pulling me back out to sea. I’m rambling now but walking THROUGH the grief will take you to the other side where peace and memory are the same. Hope this wasn’t intrusive… I’ll keep you in my prayers.