Marjorie Brimley and her daughter running through a fountain in DC after Shawn's death
New Perspectives


Last week, I was hanging out at school with one of the art teachers. He was asking about my summer, and I told him that I really hadn’t had much fun. “I just want to have FUN again, you know?” He nodded along in agreement, although I think it was fairly impossible for him to imagine what life has been like for me lately.

It hasn’t been fun. It seems like everything I’ve done lately has been for my children, and that all of my free time has been taken up with the annoyances of running a home by myself – finances, yard work, permission slips and the like.

So last weekend I decided to have some fun. I decided it was time to go out and have drinks with some friends and try and laugh for more than a brief interval. It was time to take a night and reclaim myself, even if only for a few hours.

My dad took the kids. “Have FUN,” he said. It was more of an order than an encouragement. He knows how it’s been for me this year.

Anyway, I had a great dinner and then followed it up with drinks at a nearby bar. There was live music on, and I found myself dancing and smiling as though I was ten years younger. I took shots with the bartender at one point. I went to the rooftop bar and lightning filled the air as the rain threatened.

You know what I felt? ALIVE.

I didn’t want it to end. I stayed out until the wee hours of the morning and I paid for it the next day. But God, I’d do it again, just to feel that I’m not dead.

Because here’s the thing – I’m not dead. I’ve spent the better part of this year feeling that way, but I think – maybe – I’m starting to wake up to the idea that I can feel good emotions again.

“I think I’m entering a reckless phase,” I texted a friend the next day. “What 39-year-old takes shots with a bartender at 1 am?”

“I’m not sure that’s reckless,” she texted back. “I mean, you took a cab home and you are managing to parent your kids today, so who cares if you had a little fun?”

Her text made me think. My life has been so un-fun lately that even one simple night out can feel a bit reckless. Just the mere act of enjoying myself for a couple of hours seems rebellious. I realize I don’t dress like some sort of 19th century Italian widow, but when I’m out, I feel like others must somehow know what’s happened to me and must be surprised that I’ve left the house at all. But if I really think about it, I know that most other people don’t know much about my life. The person who’s really surprised that I am out is ME.

Until this past weekend, I guess I hadn’t realized how little fun has been in my life lately. When we got to the bar, a friend asked me, “so, when was the last time you went dancing?”

I couldn’t remember. It was certainly more than a year ago. Maybe the summer of 2017? That’s crazy – I love to dance. Until I thought about that question, I hadn’t even missed dancing. Maybe I just haven’t had enough time to think about missing dancing. Or maybe it’s that I couldn’t imagine doing it without Shawn being there, either dancing with me or watching me from the bar.

And yet, once I did it – once I danced and drank a bit too much and let the rain pour down on me as I hopped from bar to bar – I realized how fun it could be again, even if Shawn wasn’t there.

I am not healed. My grief is still often overwhelming and this blog reflects that. But that night, as I stood on the rooftop bar and looked up at the lightning in the sky, I felt good. I felt alive.

Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.