• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley and daughter Claire smile at each other

    Our Bathroom

    Claire and I share a bathroom. It wasn’t always this way, of course. Once upon a time, Claire used the bathroom by her room, the one Shawn and I designated for the kids after we remodeled the house a few years ago. But when Shawn died and my dad moved in, all of the sudden there were four people using the kids’ bathroom and just me using the master bathroom. “I should share this bathroom with you,” Claire said one day. She had just turned 9. “It can be the girls bathroom. The boys can all use the bathroom in the hallway.” I wavered a bit, but somehow just a…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley hugs daughter Claire in church

    “Are You Going To Die?”

    “Are you going to die?” Claire asked me.  Her voice was strained.  She sat next to me on the couch and gripped me like she was three years old. “What?  Of course not!” I said.  “I’m going to visit Aunt Lindsay and Uncle Sean and their new baby.  Babies can’t hurt anyone!” “I mean on the plane,” she said.  “Are you going to die on the plane?” “No,” I said, emphatically.  “Planes are really safe.  They are safer than cars, actually.  I’ll be fine.” She did not look convinced, and kept clutching me.  She probably asked me a half-dozen more times if I was going to die.  Each time I…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley build a sandcastle on the beach
    Family & Friends


    Getting lost in a foreign country is never a good idea. It happened to me all the time before I started traveling with Shawn. I’d be somewhere by myself, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, and I’d realize that I was lost. I always managed to find my way home, though sometimes this meant that I lost a whole day of traveling or, worse, made some dubious decisions like getting in cars with strangers. But once I met Shawn we never got lost. On our first big trip we went to Vietnam (which wasn’t actually that far, as we were living in Japan) and there was a…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley and her daughter Claire on a boat in summer

    Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea

    It was time to jump.  And Claire was scared.  Not just a little bit scared, the way kids can get when they say “I’m scared!” but it’s mostly just nervous excitement.  No – she was legitimately scared.  The waves were actually pretty rough and the boat was rocking significantly.  “Claire,” I said, taking her face in my hands, “you can do this.  You’re only going to get this one chance.  I know you’re scared but I’ll jump with you.” Then I took her hand and led her up to the jumping-off point of the boat.  She held tight.  I could see the fear still in her eyes but I could…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smile in yard on last day of school
    Family & Friends

    The Last Day of School

    At the end of every school year, I have to create an individual report for every student in each of my classes. I write things like, “Jack has shown strong growth in historical writing this year, as shown by…” They are sometimes dry, though I try to show the parents of my students how much their kids have learned by using specific examples. Still, I know it’s really only part of what they learn in my class. Do they know how to support their argument in writing or analyze the Constitution in a debate? This stuff is important. But it’s not all of what I do in class. Trying to…

  • Claire Brimley daughter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley makes muffins in their kitchen in a blue robe in Washington

    Sick Day

    The call came from the nurse just an hour after school began. “I have Claire here in my office,” the nurse said, “she’s got a fever and is complaining of a headache. I need you to come and get her.” My dad was back in Oregon for the summer, and so this meant that my work for the day had to be set aside. I went to her school to pick her up. She didn’t look good. “My head hurts,” Claire said as I walked into the office. I put her in her blue robe when we got home and then tucked her in bed. She fell asleep. I worked…