• Claire Brimley profile by river in Rock Creek Park
    What Not to Say

    An Uncomfortable Reality

    A few days ago I was waiting to pick up Claire from school, baking under the newly hot weather we’re getting these days. I was standing around with all of the other parents and babysitters and somehow ended up next to an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in awhile. “Oh, Marjorie,” she said to me, “I haven’t seen you since….everything happened. How are you doing?” I didn’t quite know how to respond. Was I not supposed to talk about Shawn’s death since she couldn’t bring herself to mention it? I had always liked this woman, and though we weren’t close, her kids had been in class with mine. And yet she…

  • Shawn Brimley with Claire at Christmas
    What Not to Say

    It’s Not “Better”

    The other day, I was coming out of my house to run an errand and I ran into a neighbor.  I don’t know her well, but she and her husband are always friendly.  The day we moved into our house, they brought over a bottle of wine.  When a hurricane struck DC soon thereafter, her husband came out and helped Shawn as he dug a trench so that our basement wouldn’t flood.  We always waved at them when we’d see them on the street, and they thought our young kids were adorable. When Shawn died, they left a very sweet note on the front porch.  Apparently, they had noticed us…