• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's closet with Shawn's leather jacket hanging alone
    Missing Shawn

    The Closet

    I am a minimalist. So was Shawn. We both hated stuff, and made sure to clear out anything that wasn’t being used frequently. In fact, a friend came over the other day after I cleaned and jokingly asked, “what happened? Did you get robbed?” I laughed. Shawn would have been proud. My kids know that I am likely to get rid of any and all clutter and they are pretty used to it, but they frequently worry that I might “lose” something of theirs. For example, the other day at a party, Claire came up to me, handed me something and started to run off. But then she paused, turned…

  • Marjorie Brimley and children with Shawn's guitar after his death
    Missing Shawn

    Family photos

    The night before we took family photos this year, I picked up Shawn’s guitar and put it by the front door. I didn’t want to forget it. I’d already laid out the kids’ clothes and made sure we looked somewhat pulled together. But I felt like something was missing, so I went down and sat in Shawn’s recliner and thought about how I wanted to take family photos this year. We’re a family of four now, but we were always a party of five. Could I even take “family” photos if a critical member of our family was missing? How would I pose with the kids? How would we manage…

  • Shawn Brimley teaching Claire to play the guitar
    Missing Shawn

    Pooping on the Potty

    Yesterday afternoon I heard the ding of a new text message as I was sitting in our school library, attempting to grade an essay.  “Good news,” my dad wrote, “Tommy pooped on the potty at preschool today.  He is very proud of himself.” “That’s incredible!” I texted back. Seconds later, I had the immediate thought that I should text Shawn.  It’s a reflex that’s still there months after it should have ended.  I don’t ever actually start texting him, but the moment where I think, “I cannot wait to tell Shawn about this,” always occurs when something like this happens with our kids. I didn’t text him.  But I did…

  • Shawn Brimley kissing Claire just before he learned he had cancer
    Family & Friends

    The Guitar Lesson Guy

    I’m sitting in the lobby of the place where my daughter takes guitar lessons. I can hear her (and a half dozen other kids) playing music in one of the many rooms behind me. This is a whole new experience for me because until a few weeks ago, I’d never been here. Claire started guitar lessons in September. It was Shawn’s idea. He bought her and Austin guitars last Christmas and desperately hoped that they would both be interested enough to learn a bit with him. But he was a self-taught player and insisted that at some point they would need formal lessons. He decided that the time for Claire…