Now You Just Write Random Things

Tacos for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley

Dinnertime is where we have our most interesting conversations.

It hasn’t always been this way. For many years I just survived dinnertime with small kids, and the year Shawn died I don’t think I had one real conversation over a meal with the kids. But eventually my dad and I settled on a dinner routine. When Chris arrived this spring, he helped cement it even further. Every night, we go around and say our highs and lows for the day, which usually leads us into longer conversations.

The other day, I was talking about how I had connected with another young widow and it made me feel good to talk to her because I felt like I was helping her learn how to cope with her situation, at least a little bit. “It helps, I think, when a new widow can talk to another widow.”

“But mama,” Claire said, “Will you still be a widow after you marry Chris?”

I paused, and looked at Chris. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say.

“Well,” Chris said, “what do you think?”

Austin answered first. “Once you’re a widow, you’re always a widow.”

“No,” Claire said, “I think you’re done with being a widow when you get married again.”

“What’s the answer, mom?” Austin asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but I do know widows who have gotten married again. Some of them feel they are still widows, and some don’t. I think it depends. For me, I think I’ll still identify the word ‘widow’ as part of who I am, even if what I put on forms changes to ‘married.'”

“I think for your mom, being a widow is about having an experience,” Chris said. “So, your mom had the experience of losing a partner, which means she identifies with the word ‘widow.'”

We explained to the kids that not everyone feels this way, and that people should get to choose how they identify themselves. It led to an interesting discussion about how we see ourselves and our family.

“But,” Claire asked eventually, “even if you keep saying you’re a widow, you do have a partner now. So what do you do with your blog? Do you just write random things about your life now?”

I laughed. “I guess that’s kind of what I’ve always done,” I said.

It was a child’s comment, not meant to be complex, but made me think. Is there a point to this blog now that I’ve processed a lot of my grief, and now that I have a new partner in my life? Am I just getting into gratuitous over-sharing-suburban-mom territory here? Does anyone really need to read about my daily life now, even widows?

I’m not sure. I don’t know whether I’ll stop the blog in the future. But I do know this: I still get a lot of fulfillment out of writing it. I still love that people – especially other widows – can find connection with my life, and (maybe) even see one path forward from horrible grief to imperfect healing.

And maybe the blog will change. I guess it already has, somewhat. There is still a lot in the archives where I process my own grief (for examples, see April 2018, January 2019 and March 2019 – to start) and I still have times (when I hear a certain song, for example, or see an old photo) when I am reminded of Shawn and feel a heavy pang of loss. He has not been erased from my life, or from the kids’ lives.

I guess this all means that I have no idea what the blog will be going forward. Maybe 2021 will be the last year for this blog, or maybe not. In the meantime, I hope it will continue to be a space where I can share the experience of loss – and healing – with my readers, as I try and figure out what’s next.

It’s a bit of a crazy statement, anyway, because we never really know what’s next, do we? We can just take some guesses, make the best plans we can and try to process the lives we have.

Which I suppose is what I do here: just write random stuff about my life. I’m glad that there are still people who want to read it.

16 Replies to “Now You Just Write Random Things”

  1. I started following your blog shortly after my husband was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer, aged just 36, in April 2020. One night I just sat up crying, Googling variations of ‘young widow’/’surviving the loss of your spouse in your 30s’/’how to cope as a young widow’. I’ve always been a long term planner, while he’s always lived in the moment, and I felt I needed to know that people had survived what was happening to us, or at least, the ones left behind had survived. Dan is still with us, recovering from surgery, but I know our time together is far less than either of us ever expected. In we’ve been together for 14 years in February, and I hope we we get to see 15. Anyway, what I actually wanted to say is that your blog has given me so much hope that although I will not have the future I wanted with Dan, it is possible for me to have a future, and maybe even to be happy again, one day. I hope you keep writing – I’ve learned so much from you – but if you don’t I hope you know how many people you’ve helped and given hope to. I wish you, Chris, and the kids all the best for the future. Xx

    1. My heart goes out to you – you’re in such a hard position, especially during Covid. There aren’t any good answers for how to make it through terrible illness, but I am glad that the blog has been a point of solace. I hope you all get lots of good time in the future, and no matter what it holds, please know this: there is light in the future.

      1. You are doing a very good job here. My husband will be 2 years this April. Most of the things you mentioned truly happened and still happening to me. The loneliness is killing though I have teenagers as my kids and they are very considerate. But u never mentioned if u were into any relationship before Chris because I have been into 2 relationship of 3 and 6 months because I feel having friends might help with my feelings but I’m all wrong. I’m just living the way I could but totally empty. My country is not like yours where things are good. It is terrible been a widow. But I love your blog it has really help me in d last few weeks that I came across it. I believed things will be better for me . Thanks and keep it up.

        1. Oh, there were a few other (much more short term) relationships I had between Shawn’s death and Chris’s arrival in my life. You can read about the end of that first one here: http://dcwidow.com/happiness-is-for-other-people/

          I do not know where you are in the world, but one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is trying to learn more about widowhood in other places. Thanks for reading. I’m so sorry things are hard for you, both in widowhood and life. Hang in there. I’ll be thinking of you.

  2. This isn’t just a blog. Writing this is your calling.

    1. Thanks my friend!

  3. Michael Waller says: Reply

    Hi Marjorie. Whatever happens with your blog in the future I just want to say thank you! My wife passed away in Jan 2019. I really value your regular posts, especially as I feel like you are further along the path than me :-). The blog is also a great resource, I have frequently looked through old posts on specific topics. Thanks again for doing what you do.
    Michael

    1. Thanks so much for this sweet note. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard, and I’m glad that this blog can be a resource of sorts.

  4. Please keep writing! My 39 yo husband has an advanced and rare cancer that he fought so hard for all year but now the battle is likely to end in the next few weeks.

    Reading your blog has given me strength and there’s so many things you’ve said that I identify with ( even though I’m not even quite there yet). I’ve got very young kids as well. It’s also so heartening to me that you’ve found happiness. It gives me hope that there’s light at the end of this very dark and lonely tunnel. So please know that it’s still helping a lot of people out there immensely. I’m all the way in Australia too!

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s just terrible to know that your time is going to be cut short, and that you won’t be with your partner forever. Hang in there. The last days and weeks and months can be horrible….and also beautiful, too. I’m glad this blog has been helpful, even a little bit.

  5. Do what you feel you need to do and what would most help you, because in grief and processing it you don’t owe anything to anyone. But, also know that your blog has helped me (and I know plenty of others) get a bit of a grip on what path I am on now. It hasn’t even been 2 full months for me yet, but I’ve been eating up your blog from the very first post. I think continuing to write it even now that your life has changed can show us and other outsiders that life can get better than when we were at our lowest but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your partner behind in the past or “move on” even if you do keep moving forward with your life. I think your blog is particularly good at this, because you have been writing about individual experiences all throughout your journey. I have read some stand alone articles written by widows that sum up 5 years and an extremely hard journey in 1,000 words, which really doesn’t do the process justice. Meanwhile you have well over 100 posts for each year which gives a much better view of the road that lies ahead. Plus, you’re a fantastic writer. I have a very long road ahead of me in trying to cope with my partner’s death and figuring out what to do with myself now, but your blog has been a big help in showing me that it is possible, even though it feels impossible. Thank you.

    1. Oh, thank you so much for saying all of this. And I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your partner. I agree – I read those articles about surviving the first year (or first 5 years!) and I think “how in the world can you sum up that experience in one article?!” I’m glad you’ve found some solace in my blog.

  6. Dear Marjorie, your blog saved my sanity as a newly minted 38 yo widow with a small child. Nobody knew what to say to me. Your words became my closest companions. I remember thinking that if Marjorie could do this for a whole year already, I could get through another day. Life as a young widow appears to be a mystery of a topic, eclipsed only by life as a thriving re-married one. I hope your inspiration will guide you to keep writing about what it’s like – the milestones, things that are same as before and that are different, or just to say that life is good. Thank you.

    1. I really, really appreciate this comment. I remember as a new widow thinking that I needed some sort of example of someone who survived this – and that was really hard to find. I’m glad my blog has been helpful. I think it will continue for a while.

  7. Marjorie:
    My selfish self wants you to keep writing. Although I don’t comment too often, you never fail to inspire, comfort, offer solace/respite. Writing words that seem like a hand on my shoulder, reminding me to go easy on myself.
    I married Anne who had been widowed twice (had 2 young children), and we had 40 years together. Now, I’m trying see life as something happening for me vs happening to me. Your writing reinforces that,

    1. Thank you! And yes – I like to try and see the “for me” rather than the “to me” viewpoint as well – but it’s hard! Please go easy on yourself. I try and do that as well.

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