• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley as a child with her mother
    Family & Friends

    Why? (On the Anniversary of My Mom’s Death)

    One night a few years ago, when my dad was living with me after Shawn died, I was up late working on this blog in the kitchen. My dad had been reading in his room, listening to Gordon Lightfoot after we had put the kids to bed, but he came downstairs and met me to say goodnight. I was stuck on something I was writing and somehow we ended up talking for a long time about my mom. Though we often discussed my mom in general terms, we had just started talking about what it was like when she was sick. For a long time, we’d let that part of…

  • Mother of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

    Happy Birthday to My Mom

    My mom would be 72 today, if she had lived beyond middle age. She lived a full life, even if it was short, but she never got to watch her daughters get married or hold her grandchildren. She never became a photographer or a teacher later in life, and she never lived long enough to think about dying her hair or letting it go gray. She missed the many events that come with grown children and grandchildren and she missed the life she could have had. She missed it. And for much of my life when I thought about my mom’s death, I’d think about the events in my life…

  • Queen Anne's Lace
    Family & Friends

    Queen Anne’s Lace

    My mother was beautiful as a young woman, or at least that’s what my dad always says. Actually, he always says that she was beautiful at every age, and I know he means it. I remember her much more as an older woman of the 1980s and 1990s, wearing culotte shorts and sporting the hair of the time period. She looked like any other mom, I guess, and I never thought of her as particularly beautiful. But to my dad, she was. My dad loves to talk about my mom. I knew her better than my kids ever knew Shawn, because I had more time with her. But of course…

  • Two photos of Marjorie Brimley's parents and husband before the death of her mom and Shawn
    Things That Suck

    20 Years

    Two decades ago, a woman I barely knew shook me awake. I was staying with a friend on one of my days off as a camp counselor, and I had gone to bed early only to be awoken at dawn by my friend’s mother. “Your father is on the phone,” she said to me. I was disoriented, but went to the kitchen to pick up the phone. “Hello?” “Marjorie,” my dad said.  I knew something was wrong immediately by the tone of his voice.  And then he said the words that would change my life forever. “Your mother killed herself last night.” “No,” I said, “no, no, no!” I fell…

  • Austin in church in Washington DC
    Family & Friends

    Talking to My Kids About Death, Again

    Many years ago, when Claire was about 5, she was just starting to understand the concept of death. One day at school she learned from a friend that people can die of all sorts of diseases. This peaked her curiosity and she asked me about a dozen questions that night. “But how do people get sick in the first place? Why do some people get so sick they die? What happens when you die?” I answered her questions the best I could. At the end of our conversation, she asked me one last question. “Mom, is it possible that a kid could get sick and die?” I froze. I hadn’t…