• Nurse in mask like that of sister of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    Front Lines

    My sister Lindsay is an ER nurse. And let me just state the obvious: Right now is not an easy time to be an ER nurse. The other day, she called as she was leaving work, clearly exhausted. She lives on the West Coast and works the night shift, so we usually talk when it’s mid-morning for me and she’s traveling home. I asked her about how things were going and we discussed how hard her shifts had become, how they were making tough decisions about testing or not testing potential cases of COVID-19, and the shortage of masks. Lindsay doesn’t sugar coat things, and she acknowledged that without the…

  • Missing Shawn

    That Super Bowl Google Ad

    Were you watching the Super Bowl last night? If you were, did you see that Google advertisement, the one with the old man remembering his late wife? If you saw it, did you think that it was sweet? Did you think about your own grandparents? Did you imagine that someday you would be like that old man? Well, not me. All I felt was pure, unadulterated rage. I realize this is not what the makers of this ad intended. I’m sure they wanted viewers to feel a mix of nostalgia and love when they saw it. I mean, what beautiful narration by the widower, and what amazing images of the…

  • Hospital corridor like that in blog post of DC widow Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    What Brought You to The Hospital Today?

    In 1971, when my father was a young medical student, he was working with patients at a county hospital in Houston. One day, a woman came in complaining of swollen feet and my dad was in charge of figuring out what was wrong with her. “So,” my dad began, “what brought you to the hospital today?” The woman looked right at him and said, “the bus.” She was not trying to be a smart-ass. She was merely answering my dad’s question. So he tried again. “Well, why did you come to the hospital?” “My feet are swollen,” she said. “Any other problems?” he asked. “Nope,” she replied. He was a…

  • Grandmother of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    My Cross to Bear

    When I was a kid, I loved to hold my grandmother’s hand. She had a firm grip, but her skin was soft. If I close my eyes, I can feel the contours of her wrist and the bumps of her veins. Maybe it’s odd that I remember the feel of my grandmother’s hands more than that of my own mother’s. My mom often held my hand. But my mom’s hands felt like any other hands – warm and loving, but mostly just normal hands. My grandmother had very advanced rheumatoid arthritis. It plagued her for her entire adult life, mangling her joints and causing her terrible pain. When she was…

  • Parent swinging child in sunset like in story by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    At First Glance

    In the past week, I’ve had two different acquaintances tell me about terrible things going on with their families. In both cases, I was asked to keep the information confidential, which I gladly did. But it got me thinking. Before Shawn died, I used to talk with my closest friends about their problems, and I’d share mine. Sometimes, these dear friends of mine had serious problems, and we’d work through them together. But I never discussed serious problems with more casual friends and acquaintances. Instead, I talked to people in my my larger circle about our daily lives, our kids and our work. We never got too serious. When I…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smiles in black and white photo with friends Becky and Michelle
    Family & Friends

    Ministry of Presence

    My friend Kumar is a pastor.  As part of his work, he runs a bereavement group, and we meet up sometimes to talk about loss and how to help people make meaning of their lives.  One day, I was telling him about some of the things that people had done for me after Shawn died, and he said, “we call that the ministry of presence.” I liked that phrase, so I asked him to tell me more.  He said the following, The basic idea is this – as a pastor, you can preach a good sermon, but in the end, did you go on the journey with your parishioners?  You…