• Image of 3 desks in classroom like that of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley


    Workplaces love surveys, don’t they? My school is a great place to work. As I’ve written about before, I get constant support from my colleagues, administrators and parents. I know I’m lucky to have this. So, recently, when I received a “employee satisfaction survey” I was happy to take it. I marked a lot of “extremely satisfied” and “definitely yes” answers. But then I got to this question, and I paused: “Are you able to present yourself each day in a way that is seen by our students as consistent and reliable (i.e., unaffected by outside-of-school problems)?” I didn’t have a hard time with the first part of the question,…

  • DC Widow Marjorie Brimley speaking at CNAS event for Shawn

    Just Because Your Husband Dies, You Don’t Necessarily Get the Job

    I’ve mentioned it in other posts, but just in case you haven’t been following along closely: I applied for a new job at my school last month.   I found out last Friday that I didn’t get it. To her credit, the principal told me herself.  She didn’t beat around the bush, and she was thoughtful in the way that she told me. But those words, “we don’t have a position for you at this time,” almost crushed me in that moment.  I understood that there were a dozen people applying for the same job, but I thought I had a good shot.  And somewhere in the back of my mind…

  • Marjorie Brimley types blog DC Widow by fireplace


    Last week, I slept an average of four hours a night. I graded thirty freshman papers (and just trust me, freshman papers take three times longer to grade than senior papers.) I came up with a new idea for an article and pitched it to a major newspaper, and they picked it up and asked for a quick turnaround. I ran on my treadmill every morning and seemingly every time I came up with a new blog post that I jotted down as I ate my breakfast. I even applied for a promotion at the school where I teach. At one point, I woke up in the middle of the…

  • 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…

  • Brimley family gardening with single mom Marjorie

    It’s Just Me

    “Mom, where is my purple headband?” Claire yelled at me. “I asked you to put it in my drawer last night and it’s not here!” “Claire,” I answered, “I don’t know. I can’t deal with that right now.” It was 7:30 in the morning and I had three kids to get up and dressed and out of the house. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to describe the scene that lay before me, but it was filled with dirty dishes on the counter and pull-ups that needed changing and papers strewn everywhere. “Mom!” Claire continued to whine, “this is important!” “Claire,” I said sternly, “it’s not important that I find…

  • Marjorie Brimley walking as a single parent with daughter Claire

    First Day Back

    When I went to put on my shoes this morning, I realized they were caked with mud.  For a moment, I was confused.  But then I remembered – the last time I wore these shoes was at Shawn’s burial on that freezing January day. Ugh.  It was the first thing to trigger my grief and it was only 6:30 in the morning.  And today was going to be a big day, because it was my first day back at work since early January.  I actually worked through a lot of Shawn’s hospital stay, because we thought he would eventually be okay and someone needed to make sure to maintain a steady…