• Photos of Marjorie and Shawn Brimley in photos just before and after their marriage
    Missing Shawn

    Stories for My Daughter

    One of my favorite parts of my day is after my boys fall asleep and I go into Claire’s room and sit on her bed. Sometimes we both read silently, and other times she tells me about the dramas of fourth grade or other things that are on her mind. One day last week, when we were quietly reading, she looked up from her book and said, “Mama, tell me about the day that Daddy asked you to marry him.” I smiled. I have told her the story many times, but she loves to hear it. “Well, baby, we were in Costa Rica, where we were living at the time,”…

  • 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…