• Chris and Claire hug at wedding of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Parenting

    She’s His Daughter

    I wasn’t really prepared for the moment when it finally arrived. Though I knew it was coming, at least some day. I knew there would be a time when I would witness it, when I would see what it looked like right before my eyes. And yet, I was still stunned when I first saw Claire dance with Chris. Of course, it wasn’t really the first time they had ever danced in each other’s presence. We dance all the time in our kitchen, and sometimes Chris offers to show Claire a dance step. But since there haven’t been any school dances in the past few years, we haven’t been able…

  • Son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale looks at his dad Chris at wedding
    Parenting

    Do You Have Any Memories of Your Dad Shawn?

    The music was on in the background – Fleetwood Mac, I think – and Chris bustled around the kitchen getting dishes in the cabinets and napkins for the table. In the living room, Claire and Austin did homework. At the stove, Tommy slowly stirred the pasta as I cooked some salmon next to him. It was just an everyday moment, one where no one was saying much, but we were together. “I miss Shawn,” Tommy said. It happens sometimes, that Tommy says something that maybe the rest of us – even Austin and Claire – usually reserve for more reflective times. But Tommy is still young and he says things…

  • Claire Brimley daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale speaks at wedding
    Parenting

    Claire’s Wedding Speech

    Below is a speech given by my 12-year-old daughter, Claire, at our wedding. She told me months beforehand that she wanted to say something, but she wanted it to be a surprise to all the guests. She also wanted to surprise her dad, Chris. At the reception, she stood up in front of everyone, without any fear, and gave this final toast. For a long time it was just my mom and my two younger brothers, Austin and Tommy. But a year and a half ago, that changed when Chris – my dad! – came into our lives.  Of course, he wasn’t my dad right away. He was just my…

  • Son and partner of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley by harbor
    Parenting

    What Does it Mean to Be a Dad?

    What does it mean to be a dad? It was one of those sweltering days in the summer, the kind where it’s a little hard to breathe, and I sat at a picnic table at a New York state park with Tommy and Claire. About 50 feet away, Austin was lying down on a bench, with Chris by his side. Up until that point, our car trip to Maine had been pretty uneventful. Austin, easy middle child that he is, had offered to sit in the way back so his sister and brother wouldn’t get carsick. He read a book and we didn’t hear from him for almost 5 hours.…

  • Son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley eats ice cream with a friend
    Parenting

    Make a Prediction

    Tommy is learning all sorts of things in school this year, and since he’s learning them from our dining room, sometimes the whole family takes part in his lessons. Last week, he ran into the kitchen screaming, “I need to find something that starts with the letter T!” which led to a mad scramble as we all tried to think of an object that fit that description. His teacher is doing the impossible job of keeping dozens of 6-year-olds engaged, and part of that entails having a schedule with breaks. During these breaks, the kids often have “assignments” to complete, and either Chris or I will take a few minutes…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Parenting

    They Were So Little

    I love Facebook memories. I know lots of widows hate them, because it reminds them of what they’ve lost. But most of my memories are of my children, which I think makes it easier from a grief standpoint. They’re often photographs or videos that Shawn took and they remind me what he found hilarious or adorable about the kids. When we were first parents, we were debating with some other parents about whether it was okay to put your kids’ images online. “I think being able to document their young lives is actually pretty cool,” Shawn said. “I mean, think about it. They’re going to have this great record of…