• Shawn and Marjorie Brimley at their wedding before moving to DC
    Things That Suck

    One Year Later

    There was a nurse who sat with me, that I remember. I can’t really recall what she looked like, but I remember what it felt to have her arms wrapped around me as I sat on the floor of the emergency room, unable to stand. “I know what this means,” I kept saying over and over. “My husband has spots on his liver. I know what this means.” She didn’t try and tell me my fears were misplaced. She knew what it meant too. But she sat with me on that disgusting floor. Eventually, she took me somewhere to pull myself together. I called one of my friends. I can’t…

  • Marjorie Brimley and her children during the summer after she became a widow


    When Shawn and I got engaged, I sent out my first holiday cards. I was 24, but I felt like such a grown-up. On the card, we joyfully held each other with the sun setting in the distance. Honestly, when I look back at it, I think about how cheesy it looks. But in 2003 I thought it was amazing. I’ve always sent out holiday cards, and over the years, our list of recipients grew to over a hundred families. Part of the reason I enjoyed sending out cards was that I loved getting cards back from my friends. I hung them up in my house for months, and they…

  • Marjorie Brimley DC Widow in window of farmhouse
    New Perspectives

    Watching “Widows”

    A few months ago, my Hot Young Widows Club Facebook group lit up with the news that there was going to be a new movie coming out called “Widows.” Yes, we knew it was a blockbuster movie, and wasn’t likely to reflect much of our everyday experiences of losing a spouse. But still – a movie about widows! I was so excited that I put the date of the premier on my calendar. Getting out to see a movie as the parent of three little kids is complicated, but I knew I could work out childcare with my dad. The larger issue was that I wanted to see this movie…

  • Holidays


    Three years ago, we spent Thanksgiving break with our friends Becky and Josh in an old farmhouse in Delaware owned by Josh’s family. All of our kids were really little and so we spent a lot of time dealing with their needs, but we also drank wine and sat around the dinner table each night for many hours. One night, we spent much of the evening talking about Josh’s brother, Chris, and the teenage antics he pulled during his gap year between high school and college. Josh’s mom told a particularly funny story about Chris and we all laughed and laughed. I remember thinking later how amazing it was that…

  • Marjorie Brimley types blog DC Widow by fireplace


    Last week, I slept an average of four hours a night. I graded thirty freshman papers (and just trust me, freshman papers take three times longer to grade than senior papers.) I came up with a new idea for an article and pitched it to a major newspaper, and they picked it up and asked for a quick turnaround. I ran on my treadmill every morning and seemingly every time I came up with a new blog post that I jotted down as I ate my breakfast. I even applied for a promotion at the school where I teach. At one point, I woke up in the middle of the…

  • Marjorie Brimley's sons, Austin and Tommy, read a book in DC room

    Report Cards

    My kids came home this week with their first term report cards. I opened them up and braced myself. Last year’s report cards were decent, but Claire struggled academically in math and Austin sometimes shut down in big groups. I figured that those flaws were okay because, well, if they were managing to just attend school, that struck me as a win for the year. But this year’s report cards were great. I mean, no one is going to Harvard tomorrow, but both of my big kids are on grade level and doing things like “respecting the rights of others.” Austin “has a large peer group and enjoys interacting with…