[VIDEO] Finding Strength in Community From a Slice of Peanut Butter Pie

6 years ago

When I heard the news, I was in a state of shock. I knew I wasn't the only one because the food blogging community instantly expressed their piercing pain on Twitter and Facebook. My friend Jennifer Perillo's heart shattered in a million pieces and the aftershocks of her pain were felt all over the online world. After 18 loving years together and two beautiful daughters to add to their solid foundation of love, her husband Mikey died from a sudden heart attack.

My state of shock and disbelief took me away from the table that I was gathering with some friends and forced me to hide in the bathroom for a long, weeping moment. The pounding of my heart ended up thumping loudly in my head, numbing my ears. All I could hear was the pulse of my fast, heavy breathing. I nearly passed out. Then I sobbed some more.

I knew I needed to reach out to Jennie and let her know that I was feeling her pain and ready to support her in every which way a friend can. Both complete strangers and close friends to Jennifer were pouring out their public condolences to her while I hid behind my own curtain of sorrow. I was feeling selfish because I couldn't compose the words in even 140 characters to let Jennie know that I cared.

But I did care, deeply. The pain left me speechless, even in the written word.

My message to Jennie needed to be in my own words, but in the best way that I knew how to express them. How I could do it truly from my heart was through photography, in both still in moving images.

Yes, a video. I shall make a video and it will contain my message to her, expressed in my way that could bare my soul to her. My pain would live within the visual messages.

But a video of what? I spent the next 48 sleepless hours trying to compose my message and storyboard it. My mind was running in circles, clueless to how I was going to share my video message to her. Rarely do I ever enter a video project with so much fierce emotion but without strong direction. This was a first.

Then Jennie wrote this post. I clung on to every one of her written, heart-piercing words.

Jennie wrote about a Creamy Peanut Butter Pie that Mikey loved so much, that she didn't get to make for him again before he died, that it was his favorite pie, that it would mean so much to her if everyone could make this pie for the one they loved.

That Pie, that simple peanut butter pie, was to celebrate the ones you loved. That Pie, sparked a firestorm on twitter under the hashtag #APieForMikey and the whole food blogging community was exploding with support for Jennie, Mikey, That Pie and for the ones they loved. Every ticking second, a new tweet appeared for Jennie, saying that they were making that peanut butter pie.

I tried following this hashtag #APieForMikey but I couldn't keep up. Thousands of tweets were storming in about making the peanut butter pie and it was deeply touching and amazing to see the community come together like this.

In an instant, I knew what I needed to say in this video to Jennie. The powerful community of bloggers, both food and non-food, bound together to participate in an event like I have never seen before. Everyone was going to bake a pie and bake it together as a community for Mikey. Then we were going to eat it all with the ones we loved. This was the biggest baking party I had ever experienced before, and it was breathtaking.

Inspired by the fellowship of this amazing food blogging community that I witnessed that day, I immediately went to bake my own pie with my partner, Todd.

We gathered our kitchen tools, set up our cameras, Todd prepared the ingredients and we just started to bake together. With the thoughts of the powerful community echoing in the back of my mind, I knew every frame of this pie process was significant. The video was starting to take shape right before my eyes. I was beginning to heal.

So I edited this with eyes full of tears, but with a heart full of joy, because my food community gave me the strength to finally understand what I was needing to say. In fact, it was the words from this community that makes the heart beat of this video. Todd and I were just the messengers.

The food community is the true fellowship of support, strength, kindness and love. I have never been so freaking proud to be but a small speck in this vast sea of amazing people. There's not a day that I wake up without feeling so thankful for my family of online food friends.

This video is dedicated to Jennie, Mikey and every single one of you out there who love deeply. All of you in this community help me become a better person in more ways than you will ever know.

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey from Todd Porter & Diane Cu on Vimeo.

Thank you, my friends.


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