• Shawn and Marjorie Brimley in their DC house with heads touching before Shawn's illness
    Missing Shawn

    When He Was Still Mine

    One year ago today, curled up next to him in the hospital bed, I began to tell him a story. It was the story of our life together. I was up almost the entire night previously. He was sick, and needed care and I couldn’t sleep and let him suffer. At 4 am I checked his breathing. At 5 am I called my friends to bring me paperwork so I could take over the medical decision-making process. At 6 am I called his family. “Hurry,” I said. At 7 am, the palliative care nurses came in, and I wept for the first time in 12 hours. “You can get in…

  • Shawn Brimley, husband of DC widow blog writer Marjorie, walks across a field with son Tommy
    Things That Suck

    “I Think He’s Dying”

    It was New Year’s Day, 2018. I was with a couple of friends and their husbands. Our kids ran all over the house, happy to be with each other. Shawn was at home, finally, but we had decided that he’d spend the afternoon sleeping and I’d take the kids out of the house. It was freezing, and they were stir-crazy. I didn’t want to leave him, but there was still some part of me that thought we had a really long road ahead of us. If that was the case, we needed to make sure to keep the kids’ routine steady, and that meant getting them out of the house…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley at cemetery where her husband is buried
    Things That Suck

    Good Riddance 2018…. (Part 1 of 2)

    Good riddance 2018. Good riddance latex gloves, alcohol swabs, shower chairs, needles. Good riddance nightmares. Good riddance shower floor, where I often sat when I was too exhausted to do anything else but let the water pour down my back. Good riddance probate. Good riddance Zofran, 5FU, morphine and Ativan. Good riddance estate tax return with your stupid requirements to produce a statement of every account we had the day Shawn died. Good riddance exhaustion and subsequent unplanned naps in living room chairs. Good riddance crying in public.  Not forever, but just during those times when I’d like to hold it together. Good riddance documents I had to sign saying…

  • 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…

  • Austin Brimley running during Colon Cancer run in DC 2018
    Things That Suck

    Guns and Cancer

    After Shawn died, my friends Ilan and Phil organized a group to participate in the Colon Cancer Run here in DC. There were hundreds of people who showed up and the event raised thousands of dollars. As I was running with the kids that day, I thought about how supported and loved I felt. When I turned the corner mid-way through the run, I saw the Capitol and snapped this cover photo of our oldest boy – number 5008 – running towards it. I thought about this moment when I first saw news of the shooting last weekend at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Of course, I was horrified. And…