• File cabinet for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Missing Shawn

    A New Life Insurance Plan! (An Annotated Reading of the Latest Letter to Our House)

    Dear Shawn, As I understand it, you have a birthday coming up soon….Happy Birthday! Well, yes, technically Shawn’s birthday is in June. He’d be 44, which seems really old, even though I am 42! But he’s frozen at 40, of course. Not LITERALLY frozen, because the ground has thawed out at this point in the year. But I digress. Back to that letter. This might be a great time to buy a new life insurance policy. Really? Tell me MORE. Have you been hearing about changes in Shawn’s life lately? DO TELL. Here’s why: Life insurance rates have just dropped to all-time lows and many companies will charge more for…

  • Person holding weight for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Missing Shawn

    The Pieces We Don’t Know

    A few years before he died, Shawn got really into CrossFit. He was trying to get in better shape and thought maybe something that required extreme discipline was just what he needed. Plus, he had a group of friends at his work who were already part of a gym nearby. He could go at lunch. Once he started, he went almost every weekday and often on the weekends too. To supplement this new workout routine, he tried a variety of diets, including one where he didn’t eat any processed sugar at all (I hated that one, as it was no fun) and one where he put butter in his coffee.…

  • Backyard with children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Love and Chris,  Missing Shawn

    Springtime, Finally

    We have the most beautiful double-flowering cherry tree in our backyard, one that produces blossoms so huge that everyone marvels at it. When Shawn and I put an offer on the house, in the spring of 2012, it was in full bloom and seemed to take over the yard. A year later, at Austin’s birthday party, the kids ran under the tree as pink petals blew everywhere, almost as though they were running through a snowstorm. At some point, Shawn told all the kids to stand under the tree and then he shook one of the branches, producing a million loose petals. A dozen tiny voices screamed with joy, and…

  • Cemetery where DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley buried husband Shawn
    Missing Shawn

    Visitors to Your Grave

    The other day, as I was driving to Costco, I decided to stop at the cemetery. I was hungry when I got there, and so I sat down at Shawn’s grave and ate Sun Chips and told him about what was happening in my life. I don’t know why I do this. As I was talking, I saw a man in the distance. He had on a cowboy hat and a large beard. He was probably my age. He seemed to be looking for something on the ground. Maybe someone’s name? Maybe something else? What was he doing, I wondered? I sat at Shawn‘s grave for a long time that…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley poses with family in 2017
    Missing Shawn

    It’s Not All About the Last Day

    One of my favorite quotes on dying comes from the late Paul Kalanithi, in his book When Breath Becomes Air: The last day of your life is not the sum of your life. The sum of your life is the sum of your life. I’ve thought about this quote a lot over the past three years. As I’ve discussed Shawn’s illness and death, both in my private life and on this blog, I’ve thought about how I needed to keep remembering other parts of him. I’ve tried – often unsuccessfully – to push back on the bad memories and remember the good ones. Yet try as I might to think…

  • Beach for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Missing Shawn

    The Exploding Whale

    Yesterday, an old friend alerted me that it was the 50th anniversary of the exploding whale video. I laughed to myself as I searched for the video. “Kids!” I said loudly, “come in the kitchen and watch this video. It was one of dad’s favorites!” I clicked on YouTube and there it was: the exploding whale video. (For your amusement, I’ll link it here, but since it’s kind of gross I won’t embed it. For a description: a dead whale washed up on an Oregon beach in the 1970s and the authorities decided to use dynamite to blow it up. It did not go as planned.) The kids watched with…