six months, and a birthday {day 183}

Tomorrow is your birthday.

The first February 7th without waking to your beautiful brown eyes. Gosh, how I miss your unibrow. Remember how I teased you incessantly about it early on, and then you finally let me tweeze it? That’s true love, I know that now.


…from the first birthday card you gave me in November 1999.

What I would give to feel the sharp clash of your toe nails against my ankles under the covers. Why is it you never took my advice on using a nail file to soften the edges? No matter now, right? I had this thought today while driving home from your mother’s house. Rather than be sad about your birthday, I want to celebrate it, be thankful, for if you’d never been born, then my life would have been less full, less worth living these last 16 years.

If you hadn’t been born, our daughters wouldn’t be here. They are my daily reminders of the love that blossomed.

Everyone has an end date. Your’s just came to soon. When I wake on Tuesday, I will celebrate your start date, the moment you came into the world, and was destined to change mine forever. This is what I would’ve written in your card:


A glance—

becomes a gaze.

A kiss—

leads to a caress.

And with time,

like grows into love.

It is tested…

with kids,

with work,

with responsibilities.

But it survives,

because all it takes is a glance

to remember how it all started.

-Jennifer Perillo, February 7, 2012

I hope you’re finding peace wherever you are honey. Your soul still seems restless to me. I know this reality is hard to accept, but try to do it any way. We will meet again, that is one thing I am most sure will happen. I just know it to be true. You may not be Mikey. I may not be Jennie. But we will have a moment, deja vu of sorts, where we feel as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. Go find peace, and do something special today my love. Happy birthday baby.

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  • Karin Gould

    Tears in my eyes. Beautiful Jennifer. I think about you & your girls often. I found your site at the beginning of the summer and was just starting to get to know you, and your recipes, when your tragic day happened. I have been following your journey since then and keep coming back to your site. But I don’t come back every day because of the tragedy, but because of the wonderful thing you were doing here before it happened. I use one of your recipes probably at least every day, if not 2 (like yesterday). This commitment to cooking from scratch has changed the way we do food around here. We always were really healthy but this is different – this is going back to the roots. I canned applesauce, applebutter, made granola & pecans for food gifts this year, and just made my first batch of nutella. It is so important in so many ways to come back to this. We are about to embark on a move to Europe and I am trying to nail down all of my favorites “must haves” now so that when we move these things will come easy and be a source of comfort for my 2 girls. Even if they give you a hard time some nights, they appreciate what you are teaching them – about strength, perseverance, love, and good food. I see how my girls are learning to love good food – even if they wouldn’t touch the delicious risotto I made tonight (they still ate their broccoli & homemade fish sticks!). And we share so much by being together atnthe table. Thank you for continuing through. Can’t wait for your cookbook!

  • Geri

    Bravo Jennie for your fitting words… remembering how it all started and celebrating starts are what make the human, humane. Thinking of you and your family.
    Peace as you may find it.

  • liz

    we each experience heart breaks. sometimes it’s ok to not handle it well. sometimes the strength of one helps another. perspective is huge in our journeys. yours is a journey of epic proportions.
    keep fighting <3 Happy Birthday to your Love!

  • Mary Kay Roddy

    I just read this post and started bawling. Oh my gosh, so beautifully spoken and yet SO sad and so unfair. You both were so lucky to have each other. Mikey knew that he was so very loved by you and your darling daughters. I’m just so sorry that you have to experience this. As much as you loved Mikey, he loved you even more.

  • lauren

    Sending you warm thoughts Jennie…and happy birthday Mikey. I’m holding you both (and your daughters) in my heart.

  • Melissa

    Happy Birthday, Mikey! You should be so very proud of Jennie and the strength she possesses. Just like the love of yours that blossomed together, Jennie is blossoming in the wake of your death. It is a hard road she has had these past 6 months, and on many days I’m sure she doesn’t feel it. But all of us who have come to love her since your death know, she is blossoming.
    May you both find peace in your hearts as you move forward in your separate, yet entertwined journeys.

  • Tracey

    Hi Jennie
    Please listen for that special moment(s) will feel him today of all days.I am praying for that moment to happen for you, without a doubt, without a question. Being prayed with love and hope,

  • ei

    what a great tribute.
    my friend always sends flowers to her mother in law on her husbands birthday to thank her for the wonderful gift of her son.

  • Ann S.

    You and your kids will be in my prayers throughout the day.
    Odd moments on a calendar can be wrenching to the spirit, the empty space seems that much more empty. I hope that your day is filled with little moments that are lifting and a few moments of laughter.
    I will have something with peanut butter today for all of you.
    A hug and a wish for you…

  • Ashley

    Beautifully written! I love the thought of celebrating his start date and all the love he gave/shared over 16 yrs. Big hugs to your family today.

  • Rima

    Beautiful…just so beautiful. I hope you and your family can celebrate his memory on his birthday and enjoy the day :).

  • Tanya Frost

    I’m a regular reader, not much of a commenter…..
    You’ve turned a corner, you may not see it or even feel it. I’ve been there, I can feel YOUR peace, even if you can’t even imagine it.
    Here’s to many more corners and finding joy around every bend.
    Blessings to you and the girls.

  • Beth G. from SJ

    Wow. The way you weave your words – it’s amazing, so pure & honest…so touching…I will be thinking of you and your girls on your beloved’s birthday…sending you peace and much love…thanks again, Jennie for sharing.

  • Michelle W.

    You don’t need any advice today, Jennie, and you don’t need any sympathy.
    I wish you sunshine and laughter, and lots of things to smile about!
    Happy Birthday Mikey! Say hi to Barry for me, if you run into him, would ya?

  • Diane

    I ate a peanut butter bar while I read your post in honor of Mikey.
    I will forever think of Mikey your girls and the strength you have every time I see or eat peanut butter!
    Happy Birthday Mikey!

  • Carol

    You have made such growth over the last few months. Yes,yes YES: celebrate your beloved Mikey’s birthday! Celebrate the incredible gift that he brought to you and the world. Plant a tree in his memory and watch it grow. I did that when my mom died and each spring its blossoms remind me of her and the cycle of life. Hang in there, Jennie. You are deeply admired and loved.

  • Tammy

    This has so reminded me to love more deeply every moment. What an inspiring love letter you continue to send to one another. I am deeply moved by the love between you and your dear Mikey. It overflows into your girls and everywhere. With tears in my eyes and love in my heart…Happy Birthday Mike!

  • Sirena

    As often as I read your blog, this post just floored me. It’s an inspiration to love the people in my life more, every moment I have them, and let the small squabbles with my husband pass by and try to make each day we’re together a little better and sweeter and more peaceful and loving, because none of us knows what the future holds. Thanks for the inspiration you provide, Jennie, and for bearing witness to the beautiful love you and your husband shared. Good luck in everything.

  • Patsy Witchey

    Amazing. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for being brave for all of us. I hope you feel the love and strength we’re all sending you today.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m crying at my desk reading your beautiful note to Mike. Today is my best friend’s husband’s birthday, and today at 4 a.m. she went into labor with their first baby. Life, death, such a thin, magical line between the two. Thank you for inspiring us and reminding us to live, deeply, every day.

  • Vaishali

    Oh Jennie…another beautiful post and beautiful poem for your Mikey. My husband recently started a new job and had to move a diff. town and me and my daughter have a crying session almost every day…cannot even imagine what you girls are going through.
    Those last lines broke my heart but its such a beautiful feeling and of course the love you have for him is evident. Only a person who is beautiful inside is capable of penning down such strong feelings so effectively.
    Thinking of you today…HUGS!

  • Ingrid - a Belgian follower

    “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” said Leonard Cohen.
    I can see the light and am quite sure you can too.
    As for the crack, I think it’s going to be blurred by the light. You’ll never get lost.

  • Charis

    Your posts are truly remarkable. I am extremely sad for your loss and am so thankful for your generosity. You are giving your readers a beautiful gift – the reminder to cherish your loved ones and to move forward in the face of adversity. I could not be more grateful for what you are giving me. Thank you for this post and your wonderful recipes!

  • Maria

    thinking of you today…
    you made me laugh about the toenails against the ankles…when my Mikey was little (he’ll be 21 on the 21st) and we would put him to bed with us he would do that, must be a Michael thing!!!

  • Melody

    I am in awe of the ability you have to put you thoughts down on paper. I love reading them … don’t stop. Thank you!

  • Christy Piwowarczyk

    I was touched by your beautiful writing. What a courageous choice you made. I bet that’s just the choice he would have wanted you to make. Celebrate the happiness! You are an inspiration!

  • Laura

    WOW. Very powerful. You can feel the love right through the computer. Better to have loved and lost, than to never have had love. You are an inspiration to us all.

  • Jeanie

    Jennie.. I believe I am probably old enough to be your mother, and I live a long distance from you. Today across the miles I felt a bit of healing; just a little… and I am so very proud of you. Happy Birthday Mikey Perillo & to your girls.

  • Terry

    Love and longing and laughter–it’s all mixed up together, isn’t it? This is so very poignant, Jennie. I hope your day went well.

  • Mary

    Big step here, we don’t know each other, I read your blog and have a heavy heart for you. Thanks for sharing this touching moment, he is restless because he knows your pain. Take care, have a beautiful day. Mary

  • Amy

    I really love the last part about meeting again. I feel the same way – I believe in reincarnation. Truly. Thanks for sharing.

  • SB

    Jennie… Hugs. Hope you and your girls celebrated his birthday and memory and enjoyed the life that goes on knowing those memories and feeling the love of our gone loved ones (which to me is the hardest thing to do). Hugs to you and your girls…

  • Kim in MD

    Oh Jennie, you have once again left me with tears in my eyes. You are a beautiful writer. I continue to keep you and your daughters in my thoughts and prayers.

  • KM

    Jennie- I’ve never commented on here but felt compelled to after reading this post. It reminded me of the lyrics to ‘Wait’ by Benjy Davis. I hope you had peace on Tuesday. Take care.

  • Melissa

    I think reading your blog helps me to be a better person and reach out to those I want to let know how much they mean to me but I hesitate and work gets in the way. Or if I get in an stupid misunderstanding with my boyfriend, your blog helps put it in perspective. At times, I feel selfish about this- that I use your life tragedy to shed light on my own life but then realize, I think it is human and I think we all do it. But instead of lurking, I thought you may want to know that checking in with your blog feels at times, like checking in with my greater self- the part of me after a meditation retreat or life changing experience that makes me want to remember moments and hug more often. Thank you for writing and making a positive impact on me and I hope, those who come into contact with me. And please know, I have hesitated in writing this because I do not want you to feel pressure to be super positive or different than you are. Because your honesty is so helpful on days when I feel on the treadmill of life and helps me find my own honesty as well. Thank you.

  • Lowell

    My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss. It seems that the more you love someone the more you grieve when they are gone. We are coming up on our own loss of our 19 yr. old daughter and son-in-law. Her birthday is the 28th of Feb. I like the counting of days but sometimes would like to count the days to be with her instead. Thank you for your inspiration. May God give you great peace and grace during your life ahead.

  • Tristen

    I have been enjoying your recipes, and enjoying your posts. Have felt your blog absence the last week. It felt good, though, on the last post (or earlier) to hear about the girls. I would imagine that while a different sort of love, that their love and yours for them is healing and beautiful (and wretched… I’m a mom of three young kids and know how horrible it can be sometimes). Hope you are having a decent week and that your girls are giving you a bit of a respite from your pain.

  • Bernadette Paraoan

    My father’s birthday is feb 8 and he died feb 15, 2012. I am reading your post and thinking of my mother.
    Thank you

  • Aimee

    I have zero idea of how hard the loss of your beloved is. I greatly admire your strength in sharing your story with everyone, and the strength you muster to continue on in life. This post reminded me of my tattoo in memory of my best friend. She was my other half and loosing her was something I don’t have the words to describe. When I got the tattoo I only put her birthday, not the day she passed. People often ask why. Simply because the day she was born is what brought her to me, if it weren’t for that day she wouldn’t have been the huge part of my life she was. Plus at the time the thought of permanently etching her expiration date on my body seemed to strangle my heart. Yet, now, seven years later I realize that that day also changed my life. It made me stronger and it made me appreciate every day and every loved one in a much more profound was than I ever have.
    I send you love, admiration and strength for the days you feel like you have nothing left. <3