• Road in forest for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    From the Archives

    From the Archives: That’s What We Have Right Now. Hope.

    My dad arrived a week before Christmas. Initially, when Shawn was diagnosed, he’d offered to come in January for the duration of the chemotherapy. Shawn and I thought it would take about six months, and my dad could help our family until the worst was over.   What we didn’t know was that my dad had different plans. After he saw the scans that were taken a few days before Shawn’s colonoscopy, he knew it was much worse than we realized. I didn’t know till later that he’d sat at his computer in his living room and held a printout of the scan, crying as he looked at it.   My dad…

  • Grandpa Tom and DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale make jam
    Family & Friends

    Making Jam with Grandpa Tom

    My dad does many things that other people think are hard. “It’s not hard!” he often says, when referring to doing his daily exercises or keeping up with the medical literature or giving up his retirement to help raise his grandkids. He truly believes it. I mean, if I ask him to think rationally about the time it takes to do a task, he will admit that he expends effort. But he will still claim that “it’s not hard” with a smile on his face and a ring in his voice. Sometimes he openly laughs at me if I have skepticism about the difficulty of any task. “I know it’s…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with cousins and Aunt Terry outside tattoo parlor
    Family & Friends

    Terry Gets a Tattoo

    “Claire and I found a little bitty ladybug. She was about 4 or 5. And I said, ‘We never kill ladybugs. They’re good luck, and sometimes they fly away. So we watched it awhile, and then it flew away!'” Those lines were spoken by my 78-year-old Aunt Terry, as she recounted a tender moment she once had with Claire. In the tattoo parlor. Let me be clear – the story about the ladybug wasn’t set in a tattoo parlor. Rather, Terry told us this story to explain what she was doing. And what she was doing was getting her first tattoo – of a ladybug, on her shoulder, over 4th…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley watches movie from pool
    Family & Friends

    The Clark Family, Part 2

    I was a bit nervous the week before my family’s 4th of July reunion. If I’m being honest, I got so nervous at one point that I had a hard time sleeping. It’s not a new feeling for me. Much of early widowhood (at least a year and a half!) was filled with sleepless nights, and just after I felt like I was really settling into life as a young widow, the pandemic hit. But this recent sleeplessness was not because of the pandemic – everyone in my family who could be vaccinated had been, and we took all the precautions we could for the little ones. Rather, my sleeplessness…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley next to barn
    Family & Friends

    FaceTime with my Family

    “Tell Chris the family loves him.” It was a text from my dad, something that might not seem like a lot, but from my dad, it was a big deal. My father is a man who is loyal to the people around him, and who loves me and my sister and his grandkids so much, but he is also someone who doesn’t always express that emotion so readily in writing. His birthday cards to me always say something like, “Enjoy your birthday. Love, Dad.” My dad is obviously not unfeeling or unsentimental – on the contrary, he’s been devoted to our family for the entirety of his life. First, to…

  • Family & Friends

    The Best Condolence Letter

    I got a lot of letters when Shawn died. Mostly, they were letters with photos of flowers on the front (why are there always flowers on sympathy cards?) and a short note inside saying something like, “We were so sorry to hear about Shawn’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and the kids.” I appreciated these notes, at least in theory, but mostly I just tossed them into a drawer and forgot about them. I was thankful that people sent them and I really loved the cards where my friends and family recounted memories they had of Shawn. I saved a lot of them for the kids.…