• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with her sister
    Family & Friends

    Fierce Loyalty

    When my mom died, my dad couldn’t face cleaning out her closet. I was just 19, and so it didn’t fully make sense to me why the closet had more meaning than any other space. I volunteered to do it, and along with my sister Lindsay and our childhood friend Marcie, I went through my mother’s clothes. It was a quiet process, which is my lasting memory. Marcie took things out of the closet and my sister and I sorted through them. My sister, always meticulous, folded the clothes that we were going to keep. I don’t remember much else. I do remember that Lindsay and I talked very little…

  • Bike in road for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley

    Two Widows at the Orthodontist

    Austin is a pretty chill kid, unfazed by a lot of the mini-dramas of childhood. He doesn’t get anxious about schoolwork or whether he’ll get picked to play first base, and he never seems to worry much about the things that sometimes bother other kids. Thank goodness, because as long as Covid lasts, he has to go into the orthodontist’s office without me. He does it with little fanfare, and I sit outside the office on the sidewalk each time. Last week, he had an appointment to get braces on his top teeth, which apparently takes forever. I was working on my phone, answering emails from students and trying to…

  • Grandpa Tom makes breakfast for DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley in kitchen
    Family & Friends

    Do You Know What’s Hard?

    “Grandpa Toooooom!” Claire, Austin and Tommy were all trying to cram their faces into the screen at the same time, shouting their grandfather’s name and jumping up and down. It’s not like they hadn’t seen his face lately – we FaceTime as a family at least a few times a week – but rather that they were excited to each share the latest updates of their lives. Tommy wanted to show off his new book on space, Austin wanted to talk about his backyard science experiment and Claire was trying to describe her most recent adventure in baking. Grandpa Tom was all smiles as he listened. “That’s great!” he said…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley poses with family in 2017
    Missing Shawn

    It’s Not All About the Last Day

    One of my favorite quotes on dying comes from the late Paul Kalanithi, in his book When Breath Becomes Air: The last day of your life is not the sum of your life. The sum of your life is the sum of your life. I’ve thought about this quote a lot over the past three years. As I’ve discussed Shawn’s illness and death, both in my private life and on this blog, I’ve thought about how I needed to keep remembering other parts of him. I’ve tried – often unsuccessfully – to push back on the bad memories and remember the good ones. Yet try as I might to think…

  • Empty benches in fall leaves for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say


    “I’m sorry I never said anything when your husband died. I didn’t know what to say.“ I have lost count of the number of times that someone said this to me – sometimes it was a fellow teacher at school or sometimes it was a neighbor or another acquaintance. When I hear those words, I always say something back like, “you’re saying something now, and I appreciate that,” which is true. It’s the worst kind of silence if those in your world don’t acknowledge the loss of your partner. That’s crushing. But the thing is, this isn’t the only kind of silence that a widow faces – it’s merely the…

  • Image of woods like those run by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley


    The first time I hurt my ankle I was a block from my house. Chris and I had been running frequently in the mornings, and Claire had decided that she wanted to join us. So, that late spring morning, we’d all set out on a run. Somehow, the pain struck just spitting distance from home. It hurt, but I could still walk. I told them to keep running without me, and I limped home. I put some ice on my ankle and by the next day I could walk without a problem. A week later, I was back to my normal runs. A month went by. Chris was back at…