• Father of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley reads to her son
    Family & Friends

    Be Still. Listen.

    Every night, my dad reads to my boys. I’m not sure when this routine began. I know that for a long time after Shawn died, I was an active participant in bedtime for Austin and Tommy. Sometimes I read to them, or I laid on their beds as I watched them fall asleep. But slowly, my dad took over the routine. Because Claire goes to bed a bit later now, I’ve started to sit in the room with them while my dad reads their bedtime story. And that is what I’m doing right now as I write. I am listening to the sound of my 72-year-old father read to his…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley looks at son
    Parenting

    In the Middle

    By the second baseball game this season, I was feeling like a pretty rotten parent. Austin was striking out every single time he got up to bat, and though it was only third-grade baseball, I knew he was athletic enough to do better. It’s just that he hadn’t had any practice last summer. I should have helped him practice batting every once in a while. I should have thrown the ball with him. I read lots to Tommy over the summer, and I helped Claire improve both her gymnastics and running techniques. But I didn’t help Austin with anything, really. Austin is my middle kid, and in stereotypical fashion, he…

  • Austin in church in Washington DC
    Family & Friends

    Talking to My Kids About Death, Again

    Many years ago, when Claire was about 5, she was just starting to understand the concept of death. One day at school she learned from a friend that people can die of all sorts of diseases. This peaked her curiosity and she asked me about a dozen questions that night. “But how do people get sick in the first place? Why do some people get so sick they die? What happens when you die?” I answered her questions the best I could. At the end of our conversation, she asked me one last question. “Mom, is it possible that a kid could get sick and die?” I froze. I hadn’t…

  • Claire Brimley reading while Marjorie reads books about grief
    Parenting

    Reading with Claire

    Every night, the routine is the same.  I read a book to Tommy.  I read a book to Austin.  Then I sit on the end of their bed until they fall asleep.  They have a bunk bed, but they both sleep in the bottom bunk together.  This is something they did for most of 2017, and it seemed like last fall, Austin was ready to move to the top bunk.  Of course, now all bets are off.  It’s actually comforting to me that they have each other, even if it means that when one of them wakes up and comes to my bed in the middle of the night, the…

  • Austin gets his cut glued shut by friend of DC widow
    Parenting

    The Scar

    Claire has been to the emergency room exactly one time, when she ate a pistachio nut and had an allergic reaction that had to be treated with epinephrine.  My boys, however, have been at least a dozen times between them.  They’ve received stitches and slings and warnings from doctors to never again do whatever it was they were doing.  It’s a stereotype to be sure, but damn if my boys don’t go to the ER much more than my girl. I managed to make it through six months without anyone getting hurt.  But of course it was Austin who broke that streak last Friday night. After Shawn died, this was actually…

  • Austin Brimley looking at Shawn Brimley's grave outside DC
    Holidays

    Shawn’s Birthday

    My kids always seem to have a knack of knowing when important dates are coming up.  They are too young to use calendars, so they don’t usually recognize when something is about to happen.  But somehow, in the past six months, they’ve known when a big event is on the horizon.  Maybe that’s because I become anxious, and they can feel it in the air. Father’s Day was like this.  The kids didn’t know exactly when it was, but they seemed to be just a little more on edge in the days leading up to it.  And so, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when they were totally wild…