• Youngest son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley lays on couch in living room

    When 5-Year-Olds Talk About Death

    Last weekend, I drove Tommy and his best friend to a birthday party. They sat in the back seat, chatting about super heroes and I listened to their funny conversation. “When I grow up, I want to be The Flash,” Tommy said. “Ya!” his friend said. Then they brainstormed about how Tommy might achieve that goal. It involved eating a lot of funny food and learning special tricks. Their voices were high and sweet, full of excitement about the party and the potential for super hero powers. As Tommy was dreaming up ideas of what he could do if he became The Flash, he paused and seemed to think of…

  • Arial view of 4 doctors like those treating husband of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say


    There were so many questions after Shawn died. So many. Was there a family history of cancer? Did he exercise? What were the warning signs? Why didn’t you demand a colonoscopy earlier? Did he have a regular doctor? Did he smoke? Did the medical team try immunotherapy? Did he eat a special diet? Did he drink a lot? Did he have symptoms earlier in the year? Was he healthy otherwise? Those were just some of the things people asked me. Of course there were questions. Shawn was an incredibly vibrant 40-year-old. How could this happen, they wondered? But the big question was lurking under all of these questions, one that…

  • Image of herbs like those discussed in blog by DC widow Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    Asparagus Cures Cancer

    A few weeks ago, I got a private message on my blog. It was a letter from a reader who wanted me to know that she had used a special herbal remedy to cure her sister’s cancer, and it had worked. She implored me to spread the word about this herbal remedy since my own husband had died of cancer. Well, DAMN, I thought. Why didn’t I think of that? Herbs! I even have my own garden. And I actually grow herbs! Why didn’t I get Shawn to eat more of them? I posted this to Twitter and got a lot of responses. Oh, yes, there are many things other…

  • 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…

  • Child of Marjorie Brimley dressed up in zombie costume for Halloween in DC

    Dad Is Not a Zombie

    A few weeks ago, I was driving through DC with Tommy and we passed a cemetery. “Mom, look!” he said, “graves!” “Yes,” I said. “There are graves in a….” He stopped because he couldn’t find the word. “Cemetery,” I answered. “And,” he said, “there are zombies in cemeteries.” I didn’t expect him to say that, so I paused for a second to reply and then before I could say anything else, he said, “My Dad is in a cemetery. So my Dad is a zombie!” “Dad is not a zombie,” I said back to him. “Dad died and his body is in the ground. He did not become a zombie.”…

  • 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…