• Claire, daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley, plays guitar
    Family & Friends

    5th Grade Graduation

    Today is your last day of 5th grade. When you were just 5 years old, you held the hands of both of your parents as you stood on the big field, waiting for the first day of kindergarten. It was loud and filled with hundreds of people and you were uncharacteristically quiet. Your eyes were big and you squeezed my hand. I squeezed it back three times to say, “I love you” in our secret code. When it was time for the adults to leave, you clung to me and to your father. You cried and screamed for us, and in the end, your teacher had to hold you while…

  • Kids walking into school with backpacks like children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

    Teacher Appreciation

    The day that I took my husband to the hospital for surgery, we walked our children to school together. I mean, we didn’t really walk, since Shawn couldn’t do that anymore. We drove the car to the school parking lot and then we slowly made our way to the drop off point for the kids. Tommy was still in preschool, so I carried him as we took Austin to his first grade line and then Claire to her third grade line. The night before I had emailed the kids’ teachers and told them that Shawn had stage 4 cancer. “We told our children tonight,” I wrote, “and Austin didn’t seem…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley hugs daughter Claire


    My sweet Claire, today is your birthday. You are eleven. This one seems different than the others, somehow. You are so much older and wiser, so much more aware of the world around you. Maybe it’s how all 11-year-olds are. But something makes me think you have just a bit more insight than many kids your age. The light in your eyes is bright, but you have wisdom in them too. That, I think, is something that’s special about you. Life hasn’t always been easy on you, but you have made the best lemonade out of the lemons you’e been dealt. Yes, you lost your father when you were just…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley lay on couch together
    Things That Suck

    My Babies Are Here With Me

    “Thank God my Dad is almost home,” I texted a friend late Wednesday night. A part of me had been worried that we overreacted when we decided he should leave DC and return to rural Oregon. But then Wednesday night happened, and I was sure that I’d made the right call. No travel to Europe. The NBA suspends its season. Tom Hanks has coronavirus. My phone lit up so many times in the hour after I put my boys to bed, I almost couldn’t process it. I knew I had to remain calm, but nothing about the past 48 hours had felt calm. My school was closed for cleaning and…

  • Father of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley walks with granddaughter in black and white photo
    Family & Friends

    Sometimes We Make Hard Choices When We Love Someone

    Here’s something you may not know about me: my hair falls out when I’m under intense stress. I’ve had alopecia for most of my life, though thankfully it’s concentrated on the back of my head. When it gets really bad, I can’t wear a ponytail, but otherwise most people don’t notice. I can actually measure the amount of stress I’m under by what happens with my hair. And right now, my hair is falling out. The stress started a few weeks ago. My dad had gotten sick, and I was really worried about him. Coronavirus cases continued to pop up, and I was concerned about the likely spread to DC.…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's daughter, Claire, performs in the Little Mermaid as Flounder

    Not Such a Guppy Anymore

    For weeks leading up to the tryouts for the elementary school musical, The Little Mermaid, Claire kept telling me how much she was hoping to be cast as Flounder. (As a note, Flounder is the small fish who is Ariel’s best friend.) When I wondered whether she might rather want to be Ursula or Ariel, she remained firm that Flounder was the best role for her. We talked about how she might be cast in the ensemble, like last year, and she said that she would be happy with any role. But when she found out that yes, she had been cast as Flounder, she was over-the-moon. And in case…