• Austin Brimley Mother's Day card

    Mother’s Day

    On Friday, Austin came home from first grade and announced he had made a card for me.  He handed it over and I told him I’d put it away to open on Sunday.  But the front of it was hilariously cute.  On it, he’d written, “Happy!!! Mothers!!! Day!!! Mom!!!!” and drawn a stick-figure likeness of me and him.  I couldn’t wait to open it. That night, we had to go to the elementary school picnic.  Of course, it was scheduled at the same time as the preschool picnic which was across the street.  This seems to happen every year and was never an easy situation even when Shawn was alive. …

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley black and white photo before illness
    New Perspectives

    Who Am I?

    Last night, a friend of mine flew in from out of town and we had dinner.  We met up on 14th street and both marveled about how much it had changed from when we were in our 20s and roaming around on a Saturday night.  We had a great meal and got caught up with each other.  But at this point in time, dinner with me is never just one where I gossip with my friends.  It’s almost always a pretty intense affair. I think when I start talking about my life, it also brings out the serious side in some of my friends as well.  As we ate our…

  • Brimley children playing hockey in DC alley

    I Turned Out Okay

    People post comments on my blog fairly regularly, though most of them come from family and friends I’ve known for quite some time. Sometimes, however, I get comments from strangers. They might be other widows who’ve found me through social media or people who knew about Shawn professionally. But there’s one comment that I re-read constantly. It’s from a woman named Maeve, who I don’t know at all. Here is what she wrote (with a few minor edits): “I don’t know you or your family, but my father passed away from cancer when I was 9. My mother gave his eulogy too, and I still can’t believe what strength that…

  • Brimley family in house under construction in Washington DC
    Family & Friends

    Our Forever House

    Three weeks after my husband died, I received a hand-written letter in the mail that read, in part, “Hello…I send my condolences to your family in your time of grievance. My wife and I are real estate investors and…we want to buy your property and relieve you of the burden of having to keep up with the house.” It went on from there, discussing the virtues of his business and how it would be a good idea for a new widow to sell the house.  He implied that I’d never be able to handle such a responsibility on my own and included his email and phone number. Horrified, I took…

  • Tommy and Marjorie Brimley before Shawn's death
    Things That Suck

    I’m Not Sure How You Survive That

    It’s been a long time since I wore 3-inch heels.  They sit in my closet, beautifully shiny and begging me to go out.  The thing is, I’m perpetually sad, and going out won’t change that.  But I’m tired of being at home all the time.  In any case, the heels finally won out a few days ago and I got myself downtown. I was going to a political event – something Shawn and I would have done frequently if he were still alive.  Most of the people there didn’t know me, and I found it interesting that I was able to carry myself so that it appeared I had it…

  • Tommy Brimley playing hockey in alley by Brimley house

    Riding Bikes

    It’s been a long winter. I mean, we had a damn snow day just a few days before spring break this year. My kids have been trapped inside, driving each other crazy and having way too much screen time. My usual get-up-and-go persona has not been so excited this year to take them somewhere that’s winter-friendly, like the ice-skating rink, or Chuck E. Cheese. So now that the weather has finally turned these past few weeks, my kids have been living outside. Last week, after school one day, I got a text from a neighborhood mom asking if Claire could come on a bike ride with her daughter. I said…