• Grandpa Tom and Tommy Brimley at school pick up after death of Shawn

    Parent 2

    My kids all came home after the first day of school with backpacks full of forms. “You have to fill everything out today!” Claire instructed. Even though I’m a teacher, I still can’t understand how schools make you fill out the same information a dozen times. Can’t they put all this stuff in a database or something? Of course, I never minded it that much before, because filling out forms was merely an annoyance. But now that I have to look at the “Parent 2” slot each time I fill out one of these forms, it makes me sad. Last year, I started writing “no Parent 2” but that didn’t…

  • Marjorie Brimley hugging Claire after becoming a widow
    What Not to Say

    We All Hurt

    “You’re awfully young to be a widow,” the jeweler said to me with a shocked expression on his face. I was at a jewelry shop looking at new ring settings. I’ve been thinking about getting my wedding ring re-made into something that I could wear on my right hand. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but I figured talking to a jeweler could help me figure that out. Obviously, I had to tell my life story to the jeweler, and I found out quickly that he was one of those people who said exactly what was in his head. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people…

  • Marjorie Brimley's backyard in Washington DC
    Things That Suck

    No Ma’am

    I came home from work yesterday to find three ladders in my back yard. They extended from my property across the fence and onto my neighbor’s roof. I did not put them there, but my dad reported that the workers next door had done it without asking. My kids were running wild near the ladders and I started screaming that they needed to go inside. I mean, take a look at that cover picture – it’s pretty insane. I tried texting my neighbors, but I couldn’t immediately reach them. I barely know them anyway, as they bought the house a few months before Shawn got sick and still haven’t moved…

  • Marjorie teaching in a Mount Pleasant park with students before becoming a widow

    The First Day of School, Part 2

    I love my job. For almost a decade I’ve been teaching at my current school and I truly enjoy every day. I mean, get to teach history and government in Washington, D.C.! I can even walk to work. I do love having the summers off, but I miss my students and my identity as a teacher when I’m away from school. And so I was really happy when Labor Day arrived and school began. Last year, I missed chunks of school when Shawn was sick and then I missed two months after he died. Everyone at my school was really supportive, and I knew I was lucky to work in…

  • Austin Brimley riding an ATV in a field in Michigan with the sun setting
    Missing Shawn

    Remembering Shawn as He Really Was

    “I’m going on an adventure with Dave!” Austin shouted to me as he grabbed his swimsuit and ran out the door. We were staying with our friends Elissa and Dave for the long weekend, and Austin was overjoyed to be on a farm away from the city. Claire ran after him and the two of them came back hours later with sunburned and smiling faces. They were in kid heaven. It took months to plan this trip. Our group of friends had scattered across the country, so figuring out how to get us all in one place was difficult. Two of them had moved abroad and another one had become…