• Daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley stands under waterfall in her clothes

    “It’s Okay, You Can Do It!”

    My daughter has had over 300 shots in her lifetime. I never really added it all up until I began writing this blog post and I was trying to remember how many times she’d been stuck with a needle. Her allergies restricted much of her life as a young child, so when she was in first grade, she started allergy shots: two shots every week for the first two years, and then less frequent but still regular injections after that. So a few weeks ago when we were at the allergist, I was surprised when she became quite nervous at the thought of getting her blood drawn. “A blood draw?”…

  • Image representing DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley pushing a shopping cart in a grocery store
    What Not to Say


    I am a bit of a hothead lately. Well, at least compared to my previous self. I’ve always been a somewhat emotional person, but anger wasn’t something I often felt. Sure, I’d get frustrated when Shawn did something like leave dirty dishes in the sink when he left for work. I can remember thinking how “angry” I was at him. But I wasn’t really angry. I was irritated. So all of this anger I’ve been feeling lately – well, that’s something that’s relatively new for me. I feel angry much more often than I ever did when Shawn was alive. To be fair, I’m not screaming at random people in…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with youngest son Tommy holding her face
    Things That Suck

    You Are Alone. Accept That. Carry On.

    As I groped through the month of March, I tried a LOT of different things to feel better. I wrote. I ran. I talked to my friends. I drank wine. I cried. Sometimes I sobbed. I even texted my friends that I was thinking about following Michael Pollan’s experimentation with psychedelics. (My therapist friend Kelly responded with, “don’t do mushrooms! That’s a hard no.” I listened. Because, kids, you shouldn’t do illegal drugs to dull your pain. There are plenty of FDA-approved medicines that can help if that’s where you find yourself.) But before I get too far away from my key point here: March was terrible. (And yes, I…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley marries Shawn Brimley in 2004
    Missing Shawn

    Freak-Out Letter #6

    Just before Shawn and I got married, I almost backed out. I mean, not really. I knew I was going to marry him. But I had just turned 25 and I had a little freak-out that we were getting married too young. I had barely graduated from college and neither of us had jobs. We were moving to a city where we had no friends and I had spent the previous 3 years traveling around the world with little more than what I could fit in a backpack. I can’t remember exactly what brought on the freak-out, but I definitely remember crying to Shawn about how maybe we should postpone…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's father, Tom, plays legos with her son Tommy
    Family & Friends

    He Pushed the Button

    The call came out over the loudspeaker. “If there’s a physician on the plane, can you please press your call button?” My dad put down his book and pressed the button. The flight attendant came over. “Are you a doctor?” she asked. “I am,” he said. She told him he was needed in the front, and he followed her up there. My dad was en route to Texas for a week-long break. He was going to play golf with his brother and his friends. He would also get to see our extended family. He’d spent the past two months caring for my kids without so much as a glimpse at…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley greets her children at event
    Things That Suck

    24 Hours

    I wake with a start. The clock says 5:15 and Tommy is next to me. My anxiety kept me up last night for an hour or so, but at least it’s better than the previous week. The room is freezing because the HVAC hasn’t worked in a week. But I can’t worry about that because it’s time to run, eat, shower, get the kids ready and get out the door. I get to school early and meet with a student. “You need to craft topic sentences that connect back to your thesis,” I say, and show her how to do that. Then I’m off to teach about US-Chinese relations. I…