For those of you who have not yet heard, our dear friend Jennifer Perillo (of In Jennie’s Kitchen) lost her beloved husband, Mikey, to a sudden heart  attack last Sunday. Through her grief, Jennie made one request. She asked if we would all make a Peanut Butter Pie  (Mikey’s favorite) and share it with the ones we love. Thousands of friends and readers from around the world made pie to celebrate the life of a wonderful man who died too soon. And, of  course, we did too. For Mikey, for Jennie, and their two darling girls. Read on…

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Dear Mikey

My husband and I went on a walk before lunch last Saturday. As we were turning into our driveway, the neighbors were pulling out of theirs. I’d been meaning to invite them to our Labor Day pig roast, so I waved them down.

When John rolled down the window, he was the sharpest I’d ever seen him—crisp white shirt, elegant tie, slicked back hair. “Is that really you, John?” I asked with a smile. He nodded. I thought he was unusually serious, but I went ahead and invited them to our pig roast. As John turned to his wife Lynette to check the date, I knew for certain that something was wrong.

“So—” I ventured, “where you off to so dressed up?” “A funeral,” John replied. Suddenly my lighthearted invitation to a pig roast seemed foolish. “Anyone close to you”? I was not prepared for this young middle-aged man’s response.  “My brother.”

Nor was I prepared on Monday, Mikey, when I heard you had suddenly died. I couldn’t shake the feelings of empathetic loss for your Jennifer as well as John and Lynette. I spent the week fretting what to do.

I finally got my answer on Friday when Jennifer announced we were to make your favorite: Peanut Butter Pie. Now I could honor you and, in turn, remember John’s brother too.

I headed to the store, bought the ingredients, and set to work. I was so pleased at how beautifully this simple (addictive!) pie came together. I couldn’t wait the three-hour suggested refrigeration time to present it to John and Lynette. But before walking it over, I needed a snapshot. (Married to a food blogger, you know all about that!)

So I’m curious. Did you see my pie slide off the cake stand onto the counter?

At first it didn’t seem so bad. It was still more or less in one piece. But then as the filling started to seep through the crust’s fault lines, I knew it was over. I cursed and screamed, got good and angry. (Did I mention I didn’t wait the recommended three hours before taking it out of the pan?) I felt like the Dutch boy hopelessly trying to plug that dike. The more I tried to prop it up, the more it cracked and caved. Finally, as I rushed it to the freezer, I accepted there was nothing I could do. If I were taking this pie to John and Lynette, I had to make it again.

The second time I made the pie it was a meditation on loss. I flew into a conniption when my little pie broke apart. What did I know of real grief? My thoughts turned to Jennifer. What a sudden shock this all was, how well she was holding it all together, what a strong woman your wife is.

You already know it, of course, but we Three Many Cooks plan to keep a good lookout for your three Perillo girls. And by the way, Mikey, that pie you’re looking at? It’s a slice from the first pie, the one I lost.

With love, Pam and the girls

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You can find the recipe for this incredible Peanut Butter Pie on Jennifer Perillo’s blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. While you’re there, leave her some love.