• 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…

  • Cemetery of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    What Happens to My Body When I Die?

    It was dinnertime on Father’s Day this year when Claire looked at me and said, “wait, we didn’t go to the cemetery today!” She didn’t look upset, just surprised. Didn’t we always go to the cemetery on Father’s Day? In fact, we haven’t always done that. The very first Father’s Day I celebrated without Shawn, we went to the toy store and the local diner and the pool. I wanted to make sure it felt like a fun day for the kids, and for me. While we went in 2019 and 2020, this year we all wanted to celebrate Chris, and though we spent time remembering Shawn, we didn’t go…

  • Person holding weight for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Missing Shawn

    The Pieces We Don’t Know

    A few years before he died, Shawn got really into CrossFit. He was trying to get in better shape and thought maybe something that required extreme discipline was just what he needed. Plus, he had a group of friends at his work who were already part of a gym nearby. He could go at lunch. Once he started, he went almost every weekday and often on the weekends too. To supplement this new workout routine, he tried a variety of diets, including one where he didn’t eat any processed sugar at all (I hated that one, as it was no fun) and one where he put butter in his coffee.…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley at wedding
    Love and Chris

    Weddings and Other Complicated Endeavors

    When Shawn and I got married, almost six years had passed since my mother’s death. I was 25, bright-eyed and excited about the future, in a dress with a skirt so big it looked like something a barbie doll might wear. It was a great weekend, and every single one of my extended family members showed up. The rehearsal dinner was held in the backyard of my childhood home. We got tables from somewhere (maybe the church?) and my sister put candles in bowls filled with rice like she’d once seen at a bar. A local chef cooked for us, and then – one by one – each of my…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with partner Chris in field
    Love and Chris

    Guilt (Part 2)

    The notes from my widowed readers came in pieces over the past few months, but together, they read something like this: I am so happy that you have found your second love, Chris. You seem really happy! I also recently found someone new, and for the first time in a long time, I feel alive again. But here’s my question: does this feeling (of being alive and in love) make you also feel guilty? I have a simple answer for that: no. (But also, I do still feel guilt sometimes.) I guess this needs some explanation. In fact, I’ve been thinking about guilt a lot lately. So much of 2018…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley poses with family in 2017
    Missing Shawn

    It’s Not All About the Last Day

    One of my favorite quotes on dying comes from the late Paul Kalanithi, in his book When Breath Becomes Air: The last day of your life is not the sum of your life. The sum of your life is the sum of your life. I’ve thought about this quote a lot over the past three years. As I’ve discussed Shawn’s illness and death, both in my private life and on this blog, I’ve thought about how I needed to keep remembering other parts of him. I’ve tried – often unsuccessfully – to push back on the bad memories and remember the good ones. Yet try as I might to think…