I’m sure this isn’t the only food blog you read. So, assuming you’ve been surfing about in the food blogsphere at all, you’ve heard about Jennie. About the sudden death of her husband Mikey. About thousands of peanut butter pies made in his name. About the aftermath of sudden and unexpected death: not only crushing grief, but mortgage payments, legal and tax issues, health insurance woes. Fear. Worry. And an overwhelming feeling that now you must face these myriad problems alone: that the person who promised to be there always, to face life’s challenges with you, isn’t there. It’s heartbreaking.
I don’t know Jennie. Until Mikey’s death, when the food blogging community exploded with an outpouring of love and sympathy for her, I’d never heard of Jennie’s blog. But, I’m a woman, a food blogger, a wife, a New Yorker. I’m human. I can imagine all too well what I would go through in her situation, and isn’t strange, yet wonderfully human, to have wept so many tears in the past few weeks over a woman, a man, a family I’ve never met?
As much as I sympathize with what Jennie is going through right now, as much as my heart breaks over her girls growing up without their Dad, I have to admit that I identify with Mikey. Because as terrible as it would be for me to lose the love of my life (and I can’t type those words without crying) even worse would be if I were the one to go; to go and to know that I was leaving behind the crushing grief, the aching loneliness, the unholy storm of financial and legal issues that would ensue. I could only hope that friends and family, the bonds we’ve forged in our life together, would rally ’round and help him in his time of need: with, yes, hugs and tears and shoulders to cry on, but also time and space and freedom from anxiety. With time to adjust to a new normal, without the fear of losing his home. With space to grieve for all the things that we would never do together, without worrying about the bills piling up on the counter. With breathing room. If I put myself in Mikey’s place, that’s what I would want (short of coming back to my family, which clearly, is beyond any of us): breathing room. A little space of time between dealing with the emotional upheaval of loss and dealing with the mundane, but important, aspects of a new reality. It doesn’t seem so much to ask for, does it?
I don’t care much about money. I don’t play the lottery, don’t lust after millions: it’s just not my bag. But this is one of those times that I wish I was rich. Really rich. Bill Gates-rich. Because it would be so easy: I would just say “Jennie, don’t worry. Here’s $100,000. Take 6 months, spend your time grieving and sorting out a new life for you and your girls. The mortgage, the health insurance, the bills – we’ve got you’ve covered.” And I would think “Mikey, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Your girls are going to be OK.” Sadly, I am not Bill Gates-rich; not by a long shot (and if I were, I’m sure there would be a million Jennies with a million heartbreaking stories; I’m not naïve enough to think it’s that simple). So what can I, a complete stranger, and a not-rich one at that, do? What can I do to help Jennie? To help Mikey? Luckily, I don’ t have to sort that out for myself: Bloggers without Borders has done it for me.
They’ve set up a fund: A Fund for Jennie. Again, assuming that you’re out there in the blogosphere, you know this already. What’s amazing is the incredible support it’s received: in only two days, they’ve raised nearly $15,000. There are approximately a bazillion fantastic auctions out there in support of the cause, with new ones being added by the minute. So, I donated, what little I could, like hundreds of others have done so far. And as a thank-you to the many who have donated, and to encourage others to open their hearts, and their wallets, to offer up whatever they can to the cause, I’ve created my own auction of sorts: a set of custom canning jar labels.
Here’s the deal: the first 5 people who donate $25 or more and who comment here will receive a PDF of custom-designed labels, made by me, just for you. For a $25 donation you can select one design. Donate $50? Pick two designs. Want to label your whole pantry? Fantastic! Dig deep, donate generously, and I will make your canning pantry the envy of your block. You can choose any of the three designs pictured above: Circles (as featured on The Kitchn and Pimp that Preserve!), Typewriter, or Modern Text (also shown here and here), and I will incorporate your specifics: maybe you want labels for a particular recipe; maybe you’ll be giving out holiday gifts, or bridal shower favors; maybe you want a generic “from Sam’s Kitchen” with a space to write in the individual preserve. Whatever it is, I’ll work with you and do my best to make it happen, as a thank you for supporting a great cause. As additional incentive, the contribution with the single largest donation will win a set of labels, and I’ll hold a random drawing from the comments here of anyone who donates, any amount large or small, for a total of 7 winners. I’ll keep the auction open for one week, until midnight (Eastern Standard Time) August 30th. Simply click on the BWOB button below to donate.
Seven sets of labels. It doesn’t seem like much: but it might buy a little breathing room. Don’t worry, Mikey. We’ve got your back. Your girls are going to be OK.
I should note that I assume you will want to print the labels yourself, hence I will plan to email a PDF file, which you can use again and again. The file should work with any 2 and 1/2-inch round label, but I use Avery, which are available in white and 100% recycled Kraft brown. Should you not have access to a printer, or be unable to source the labels, I am happy to print some out (within reason) and mail them to you.
Disclaimer: I’m not a graphic designer. I mean, I work in MS Word, which is more than a little pathetic. But people seem to love the labels, so I thought it would be a nice way to say thank-you. I’ll do my best to design a custom label that you love; but I can’t work miracles. I’m just a science geek, after all.