Sunshine streaming in living room of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
Missing Shawn

2 Years Ago You Told Me This

2 years ago, on this day, you were here with me.

You were sick, yes. You couldn’t run with our kids. You couldn’t lift your CrossFit weights. You couldn’t even turn on your side in the bed and face me at night.

But you were here. With me.

We spent the day together, visiting with friends who came by, but mostly sitting next to each other, savoring the sunshine that streamed through the windows on that freezing January day. If I close my eyes, I can feel the way the sun’s warmth landed on my back as you looked right at me and reminded me that you loved me. As you told me that you’d always loved me, every single day.

I knew it. I knew you loved me. I knew you loved me when we were cuddled up in the shack on the beach in Vietnam, escaping the pounding rainstorm outside, and you turned to me and said it for the first time. I knew you loved me in those moments after Claire’s birth, when you came to my side and choked out those words with tears streaming down your face. I knew you loved me that night we had one of our biggest fights ever and you begged me to forgive you and told me that no matter what, you loved me.

Two years ago was a terrible day. You were so sick and all I could do to relieve your pain was to bring you ice and cold towels and warm blankets. You didn’t complain. You knew it was the end, and I knew it was the end, but we thought we had more time to say the things we wanted to say.

But of course, we didn’t.

And yet – we had that day. Yes, there were a friends who came in and out. Yes, hospice showed up at lunch. Yes, our children were around in the afternoon. But really, that day was mine with you. Just us, even if there were other people who came and went. I never left your side for more than a minute. We were a unit on that day.

Sometimes, in the darkest moments I’ve had, I reach back to that day when we sat in the living room. I might be in a terrible place because I’m reeling from a really poor choice with a man or stressing about something with the kids. I might be at my wit’s end about one thing or another and I might think that I just cannot keep living a life without you.

But then I remember what you left me with. I remember that you wanted me to know, for sure, how you felt. I didn’t know you were going to die the next day, even though we knew the end was near. But we knew time was short.

By the next day, you were more out of this world than in it. And by that evening, you were gone. But that day – the day before you died – that day was ours. And you made sure to tell me about your love for me, one last time.

You told me that you had always loved me, every single day.

You didn’t have to say it. But you did anyway.

Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.


  • Ian

    Absolutely wrecked by this (and near tears in front of 27 eighth graders) but am so glad I read this … and am so glad you wrote it. What a gift so close to the end. You’re a marvel, and Shawn … what a man.

    I don’t have the proper words but as always I send out my support and affection from frigid Ontario during this tough time of year!

    • Marjorie

      I love that you knew him as a young man. He always knew who he was, and only got better with age. Thanks for the love, always.

  • Jen

    Oh Marjorie. Beautifully written. Tears in my eyes as I read it. What a day for the two of you. Thank you for sharing. You are incredibly strong. Hugs to you my friend.

  • Gretchen

    This is powerful and beautiful. I am typing this with tears in my eyes and stopped midway though to text my husband that I love him. I too send you love, light and support from Buffalo.

      • Gretchen

        Awww you are making me cry happy tears at my desk again. Thank you for making me be more present in my marriage and life. Your words are so powerful and painful. I hope that we can help lift you up knowing that we support you from afar. As a Hip fan your post today resonated with me too, actually all of your posts do. “You are armed with will and determination and grace, too”

  • Lisa Leshaw

    “You knew it was the end, and I knew it was the end, but we thought we had more time to say the things we wanted to say.” There are no words to adequately express the emotions I felt reading your exquisite tribute to Shawn. You give us your heart. We hear your love. God Bless.

  • Lora

    Marjorie, how beautiful and touching. You have a gift with words, my friend. I’m so glad you had this day with Shawn. I have no doubt tomorrow’s memory will be difficult, but I hope you can hold on to today’s memory to help ease it in the ever so smallest way. Thinking of you and your family–today, tomorrow and the days to come. xo

    • Marjorie

      You know, there is really no good way to die. But thank God I had these final days with Shawn – I truly do hold onto them.

  • Steph

    Sending hugs, Marjorie. I remember being ‘the unit’ with Bryce toward the end- one of our closest times. May you recall many memories to make you smile x

  • Gabe

    Tears in my eyes and thinking of you, Marjorie. What a gift— I appreciate your attention to detail even in moments like this one and I’m happy you have this memory to carry with you through life. Sending love- this week and always.

  • Ellen

    Sobbing crying. Out of respect for a love so true. Out of affection for all of you. But happy to be getting to know you better and looking forward to the many years ahead of friendship and affection.

  • Mindy

    I am crying with you, you’re not alone with his pain. Your story that you share so openly, helps us all. Thank you

    • Marjorie

      I do feel good that by sharing my story there are other people who feel that they can heal just a bit. Thank you for saying that.

  • Sumi

    Beautifully written and thank you for sharing. Still have some of my best memories with you and Shawn in Japan/Philippines. I definitely hold onto those great memories 🙂 thinking about you and your family.

  • Wendy

    I am sobbing as I write this. That was so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your precious time you spent with your husband Shawn and those memories that you will have for a lifetime. I have written you once before about the loss of my husband Larry to colon cancer. It will be 1 yr next week, January 14th that I lost the man I spent 38 yrs with. As I walk around our house everything of his is still where he left it, I even still have his cell phone on..crazy, and why.. After he passed away I found 2 voice mail messages on my phone, it was him telling me how much he loved me and that I was the love of his life.. I wish I had one more day to tell him the same. Thank you so much for opening up to us, and thank god for memories as that is all some of us have… Bless to you and your family.

  • Jackie Faithfull

    Wow Marjorie, I feel your pain. You spoke to my heart. I lost my husband 3 years ago and sometimes I still feel like I don’t want to go on living without him, but we have 4 sons so I have to. Thank you for sharing your story. It truly touched me. So sorry for your pain. I was 51 when I lost my husband Michael, but 38 is way too young to be a widow. Definitely not a club we want to be part of but I am grateful to hear from women who do understand exactly what I am feeling. God Bless you!

    • Marjorie

      I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so glad this blog can be some sort of solace. And yes, we have to continue on for our children. But it is so hard some days – I get that.

  • Erin

    Oh Marjorie – So beautiful and heartwrenching. Your love for one another is so inspiring and it was always so evident how Shawn adored you. Here for you today and every day. Love you, Erin

  • Kate

    My heart breaks for you and your children. The pain of losing a spouse is like no other. Your entire world crumbles and it takes years to build back up. I look to your blog for inspiration often and it helps me to understand that what I’m feeling is normal. I share many of your fears and hopes. Thank you for writing this blog. You are helping so many of us who sometimes have no other place to turn.

    • Marjorie

      God, I’m so glad I can be some sort of help with my blog. People ask me for my opinion sometimes and I tell them I don’t know anything! I’m just speaking my truth. I’m glad it’s helpful.

  • David

    I’m the kind of person who shows my love by doing things for you. My husband was the kind who said, “I love you” every day, and every night before we went to sleep. He too didn’t need to say it, but he always did. How many nights have I reached to turn off my lamp and waited for that “I love you” that will never come again?

  • Laura

    Dear Marjorie,
    I lost my first boyfriend when I was 20. He died from cancer and although we did not have kids or even thought about it (we were kids ourselves) I am deeply inspired by you. I miss Nick every day and it is already 6 years that he had to go. I hope that one day I will be able to have the strength that you. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Lots of love, L

    • Marjorie

      Thanks so much for your sweet note. Loss at any age is so terrible. I used to think my loss was the worst, but now I know that at 20 or 40 or 80 – it’s all terrible when it’s the person you were supposed to be with forever.

  • Laura

    I think you are true. But that is what makes your blog even more inspiring. You always tell the truth and you do not make it any easier or brighter. You just tell us how it is.

    • Marjorie

      Thank you. I just re-read this post and remembered how hard it was to write and also how much healing it brought me to write it. Thank you for reading it.