• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale hugs family at wedding
    Family & Friends

    You Carry the Passports

    This year for Spring Break, you went to Texas. Claire and Tommy came with you, but your dad and I stayed behind in DC to work. As we packed up the bags for your first solo airplane trip, we reminded Claire about watching Tommy and calling us when you landed. She started to get really nervous. I tried to calm her down as I packed her bag with the passports. “Don’t lose these!” I said, sternly, which didn’t help her nerves. She got so upset that she had to sit down and collect herself. I looked at the passports and then at Chris. And then we both quickly decided that…

  • Daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale, Claire, hugs her
    Holidays

    Today, You Get the Ring

    Many years ago, my grandmother’s grandmother turned 13. On that day, her father took her into town via horse and buggy, and bought her a tiny little ring, just perfect for her hand. I do not know her name, and I am not even sure if it was actually my grandmother’s grandmother, or someone even further back than that, or merely my grandmother’s mother. I only had the story told to me once, on my 13th birthday. On that day, I didn’t just hear the story. I also got the ring. My mom gave it to me. She had gotten it from her mother on her 13th birthday, and her…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale dances with husband Chris at wedding
    Holidays

    43

    When I was a child, the best day every year was my birthday. No matter how my mom was feeling, she made my birthday magical: big parties and special treats and lots of dancing to the Beatles “Birthday” song when we got home from school. It was a day when I always felt celebrated and special and adored. And so, I loved my birthday – at least, until my mom died. I was 19 at the time, and once the shock wore off, one of my first thoughts was about my birthday. Who was going to celebrate it with me? How would it possibly be special without her in it?…

  • Son Tommy of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale runs to her at wedding
    Family & Friends

    To All That Is to Be: Yes

    When I asked you what I should write for the blog post on your birthday, Tommy, you smiled a bit and then said, “You should write about how many friends I’ve made this year. I have, like, ten new friends!'” You’ve always been like this. Joyful and happy, unaffected by the worries of the world. But that does not mean you’ve been unaware of those around you. On the contrary, you can see what’s happening with a certain clarity. It’s always been that way. When you were 3 years old and you lost your dad Shawn, you didn’t cry. Maybe you were just too young. Maybe you would be untouched…

  • Bread made by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Holidays

    Shawn’s Birthday, Year 4

    I bake at least four loaves of bread every week. I know, it may seem excessive, but I’ve got three kids! Still, that’s not really the reason I bake so much bread. Mostly, I do it because I love it. I haven’t always baked bread like I do now. I learned how to do it in my 20s, but it was a “special event” sort of thing, something I did maybe once or twice a year. I didn’t have any special equipment or techniques (I used Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe) and mostly, I just bought our bread at the grocery store. Shawn used to love it when I made homemade…

  • Austin and family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    Just Like Your Dad

    Everyone says you look like your father. It’s true, Austin. Photos of Shawn at your age show not just a resemblance, but an image so similar I almost always have a moment when I think it’s a photo of you. The the shape of your eyes and the way that you smile and the size of your head and so many other features about you look just like every photo I’ve ever seen of him. Even the way that you hold a pencil is similar, as is the look in your eyes when you focus. Maybe this is why when he died, I worried the most about you. You were…