• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley poses with friends and their husbands at a party
    Family & Friends

    The Little Things

    Right after Shawn died, I was talking to a girlfriend of mine about how I missed going out to dinner.  “We can go out anytime,” she said.  “If it’s easier, we can just go out with all of the women.” She was trying to be compassionate.  She understood that it could be hard for me to go out with a group of couples, especially so recently after Shawn died. But I didn’t want that, and I told her so.  The men in our group – they are my friends too. I appreciated that she was trying to be mindful of my feelings.  But what I appreciated even more was that…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's Clark family in pool
    Family & Friends

    The Clark Family

    “Austin can’t come to the phone right now,” my aunt Nancy said to me. “He’s skinny dipping in the pool. I told him he needs to do it fast because the girls will be out there soon!” I laughed, and I could see the smile on her face as well. “Okay, well can I talk to Claire or Tommy?” I asked. In the background, Claire ran by and said, “I can’t talk now!” as she fell over laughing about something. I could see her performing some sort of skit (or dance?) for my Aunt Terry. They were both laughing, and Claire’s enthusiasm was matched by Terry’s. Nancy yelled for Tommy…

  • Stethoscope used by doctor of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    Heroic Work

    I met Reed, the man who would become one of Shawn’s cancer doctors, minutes after we first came to NIH. The days before we met him were a blur of horror: I had driven Shawn to the local ER and watched him curl up in pain, hours later Shawn had been admitted to that same local hospital and gotten a colonoscopy, and immediately after the operation we learned that Shawn had stage IV cancer. Then we sat in that local hospital from Friday until Monday and never saw an oncologist. It was one of the worst weekends of my life. Our friends showed up, including our pediatric oncologist friend Jason…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's feet at her husband's grave
    Missing Shawn

    Reflections at Your Grave on Easter Weekend

    I’m sitting on your grave, typing.  The workers here already think that I’m crazy – I saw one of them gesture towards me a few minutes ago when I laid my head in the grass – but I’m just going to keep writing.  I’m not like all the other visitors.  I’ve been here for an hour, and I’ve seen the mourners come and go.  They drive up, get out slowly from their cars, and walk to a grave.  Maybe they bring flowers.  Maybe they stare at the grave for a while.  But after a few minutes, they leave. I’m not sure why they would leave on such a beautiful day. …

  • DC Widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's desk with note that says you are loved
    What Not to Say

    What (Not) to Say in Crisis

    Right after Shawn died, lots of people tried to say things to me that were supposed to be comforting.  Most of these sayings reminded me of Hallmark cards, even if they were heartfelt (i.e. “I’m thinking of you in this difficult time.”)  Other times, people stumbled over their words, trying to find the right thing to say.  Sometimes, people said nothing at all. (As a note, I think saying nothing at all is the worst.  Better to mess up and say something annoying/imperfect than to ignore a terrible situation.  Even if it’s been a year or two and you still haven’t said anything to someone who’s grieving, you can do…

  • Father of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley, Tom Clark, carries Tommy and looks at the distance
    Family & Friends

    Sometimes There’s a Little Vomit

    I was away on vacation for the first time in months.  It was glorious.  I still woke up early, went on a run and had eggs for breakfast.  But I got a bit of time and space to think, to breathe and to remember who I was without all of the distractions of daily life. My dad was home with the kids.  I called every night and talked to them via FaceTime. One night he answered after just one ring.  “Things are fine here,” he said.  “But Austin is playing basketball in the alley and refused to come in for dinner.”  He shook his head with a mixture of frustration…