Hello! My name is Shannon Taylor. I'm a long-time writer and editor from Minnesota surprised to find myself on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, three younger children (the oldest is attending college in Chicago), and two dogs.

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So what if instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.
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Winter Fun

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey (and Tim)

It was a year ago this Labor Day weekend that Tim had his mountain biking accident. As the anniversary date approached, I wondered what in the world I could write that would express what this year has been like. I could write about how you can get through just about anything if you really have to. I could write about how kind and good people are. (And they are so very kind and good.) I could write about how the way you see the world really does change when something catastrophic happens, and that whether that change is for the better or worse is entirely up to you. I came up with lots of ideas to share with anyone willing to listen.

But then I read about Mikey and Jennie and the pie.

Jennie is a food editor, recipe developer, and blogger. Her husband, Mikey, died suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday, August 7th. Just like that, Jennie lost her best friend, her husband of 16 years, and the father of her two little girls.

This was a devastating and life-altering event and everyone would have understood if Jennie had retreated into herself and her girls and shut out the rest of the world. But Jennie decided to shape something out of her grief—for herself, for others, and for the memory of her husband.

Jennie posted a request on her blog: “For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.” Jennie had meant to make Mikey his favorite pie, but she kept putting it off until tomorrow. Don’t we all?

The thing is, we’ve all suffered grief and loss. So knowing as we do that it can all end at any moment, why aren’t we making peanut butter pies all the time? Why aren’t we filled up every moment of every day with joy and gratitude for how lucky we are?

I think some of it is because these human hearts of ours simply can’t handle it. Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I think of the moments after Will was born. I was chatting away with the doctor and nurses, and my doula leaned over and whispered gently, “Shannon. Look at your baby.” What she didn’t understand was that I couldn’t look at him because he was too beautiful. Looking at my son was like looking at the sun and my heart couldn’t take it. All that joy and divinity bursting into this human realm was too much and I needed a minute. And so I anchored myself in friendly, easy conversation about things that didn’t really matter.

Which is how we fill our days. We talk and scurry and fret and worry. But now and then someone like Jennie says, “Stop. For the love of Heaven, stop and make a pie.”

Despite the fact that I nearly lost him last year, Tim still bugs me sometimes. My children frustrate me on a fairly regular basis. I get careless with this “one wild and precious life.” Luckily, that spiritual being having a human experience inside of me can stand only so much of my recklessness. Every night she reminds me to look—really look—at my children and Tim before I go to sleep. It makes this human heart of mine ache every single time but it also brings peace and a reminder to try harder to be awake tomorrow. Because everything really can change in an instant.

So. We made the pie and ate it tonight. I told Tim and the kids the story of Mikey and Jennie and their girls. I think they understood. I’m sharing the story with you so maybe you’ll make the pie for Mikey and for someone you love, too.

I have a cherry turnover recipe that I’ve been meaning to make for Tim because it’s his favorite. I think now would be a good time.

{ You can read more about Mikey and Jennie and find the peanut butter pie recipe here. }

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  1. Cheryl ODonnell says:

    Oh Shannon. You write so well and say such good things. God bless you and shower you with the love that you spread to all of us. I all teary eyed – and that is a real good thing. Wonderful story. Been thinking of tim for the past week. Hugs to him and the kids – and especially to you.

  2. Mike says:

    Very eloquent! It’s such a touchy subject, tip-toeing that fine line between living today to the fullest (as though it may be our last) vs. living with one foot in the future -maybe it’s a component of that ever elusive ‘balance’. I think this piece offers an excellent example of how to straddle that line. Thanks for taking the time to share!

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