• Shawn Brimley and son make cake for birthday on blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Missing Shawn

    Shawn’s Birthday, Year 5

    He would be 45 today. Wow, that seems so old. Maybe it’s because he only made it just over the hump, to his 40th birthday, and then so quickly left this earth. Shawn and I talked a lot about what it would mean to be forty (40!) and how it was this whole new step in our lives. And yet, he fell ill just a few months later, and died so quickly that we never really had the chance to think through what our forties would be like. I had to figure that out on my own. The first year without Shawn, I wrote two blog posts about his birthday.…

  • Microphone for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Missing Shawn

    What If?

    I teach the only International Relations class at my school, so I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months listening to the news. I am a particular fan of podcasts, because I can also cook or clean or do other tasks while I listen. And right now, all I’m listening to is one news analysis after another, particularly around the war in Ukraine. Did Putin miscalculate? What do we know about Zelensky? How are refugees faring? I like listening to podcasts, because I like knowing about the world and because – like many people – I find it hard to look away from what’s happening in Ukraine.…

  • Claire Brimley, daughter of DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale, at the colon cancer race in DC
    Missing Shawn

    They Remain for Me, Too

    The kids know that the annual 5K ScopeItOut run (put on by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance) is a really big deal in our house. We talk about it for weeks and they know that the team is one that is in honor of their dad Shawn. We even have t-shirts. They are all still young enough that they think the team name “The Turd Offset” is hilarious. (Lots of team names utilize the puns of butts, and ours is the same. Shawn worked on “The Third Offset” strategy when he was in government.) In any case, this year was no different. Everyone was excited to do the run, and for…

  • Tommy Brimley, son of DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale, kneels by his father's grave
    Missing Shawn

    My Body Still Knows

    It was my racing heart that woke me up around 4 am every morning last week. It was confusing, usually. Why was I feeling so nervous? Sometimes, I’d get up and get a drink of water or just walk around a bit, trying to shake away the anxiety inside my body. But it persisted. Maybe I was nervous about the return to school, I figured. Covid is really bad in DC, so maybe I was worried about getting sick at school, or maybe I was just feeling the general angst in the air every time I go to the grocery store. Maybe it was the snow that kept falling last…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale walks in woods
    Missing Shawn

    I Am Happy, Like You Wanted

    My school is a place where we celebrate everything. Christmas, Diwali, Passover….you name it. I love that we celebrate all of the many wonderful traditions that students do at home. This year, a teacher from my department decided that we should do a Day of the Dead altar, something from his culture. He invited us all to participate by bringing a framed photo of a dead loved one, as well as an object that person loved. The display was covered in orange flowers and slowly a few photos appeared. After a few days, I decided I wanted to add my own photo, so I went back to my desk to…

  • Empty garage for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Missing Shawn

    Totes in the Garage

    I love spring cleaning. I love getting rid of things I don’t need, wiping down the surfaces of stuff that’s been in storage for the winter, organizing and using my label maker. I’m that girl. I love it so much that I also do a fall clean-out. And sometimes I even add a winter cleaning. But being a widow makes this process more complicated. I’ve always been a person who gets rid of everything I don’t need, and everyone knows this about me. In fact, my kids are so aware of this part of my personality that they’ll frequently give me something (a toy from a birthday party or a…