• Children and husband of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale pose at baseball game

    First Father’s Day

    One of the more surprising things we discovered as we began the adoption process was this: once Chris officially adopted the kids, their birth certificates would change to show him as the father. And Shawn’s name would be removed. It seemed strange to me. They are both the kids’ fathers, so why did the government need to erase Shawn’s name? I get it, in the legal sense. It’s important for forms and other legal issues and I’m sure it is a product of the closed adoption system that was common in the past. But still. Shawn’s role in the kids’ lives mattered, and continues to matter. Just not on paper.…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

    What Are You? (Father’s Day, 2021)

    Below is a post that was written by my partner, Chris. While I wish he would write more often, he feels that this blog is mine and so he usually wants to stay in the background. But I managed to convince him to write something recently, and it struck me as a perfect great Father’s Day post. It’s about love, loss and what it means to become a father. Those of you who know Marjorie, know that she is nothing if not direct. Never one to shy away from offering her opinion, I’ll often find myself on the receiving end of a talk-shouted “That’s dumb. Don’t do that” from across…

  • Letters I love dad for blog post by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley

    Father’s Day, Year 3

    I try not to look at social media on Father’s Day. I know I’m not alone. A lot of widows purposefully avoid social media on these fraught days – and there are many fraught days. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving…the list could go on. Because here’s the thing about social media on days that are celebratory: people post photos of their smiling and (usually) intact families. They sing the praises of the fathers in their children’s lives. This is great, and yet it is all a brutal reminder to me that my own family does not look like it once did. Father’s Day is probably the hardest…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley put roses on their father's grave on Father's Day

    Father’s Day, Year 2

    In the weeks leading up to Father’s Day last year, I had a million people checking in with me. “Do you know what you want to do on Father’s Day?” was a common question I got. Honestly, I didn’t know. I was dreading the day as it marked the first event where I was supposed to be celebrating Shawn, and he wouldn’t be there. But I made it through. We had a good day, even if it was still a hard day, and my community surrounded me and the kids. We went to the toy store. We talked about Shawn. A zillion people helped me with the kids at the…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with her children

    One of the Most Important Things a School Can Do

    I just got an email from my son Tommy’s pre-kindergarten teacher that made me cry. I’ll paraphrase it here: Dear Parents, Mark your calendars for FAMILY DAY! In lieu of Mother’s and Father’s day celebrations we would love you to join us for breakfast to celebrate our pre-kindergarten families! Coffee, juice and assorted pastries will be served, along with the special bread recipe created by our class! Hope to see you there! Obviously the teacher wasn’t trying to make me cry. But, she did. She made me cry because of this simple act of inclusion. And it made me think this: I bet the teacher was thinking of me when…

  • Shawn and Tommy Brimley on river before cancer

    Father’s Day

    My anxiety around Father’s Day this year was out of control.  I guess that’s to be expected, but I had a hard time focusing on the last few days of school because I was obsessed with what would happen on Sunday.  It’s not like Father’s Day was this huge event in our house in previous years.  My kids would make Shawn a card and maybe he’d go see a movie with friends. But still.  It’s such a marker of what we don’t have that seemingly everyone else in the world has. I know that’s not true, of course.  I know there are lots of single moms out there, and plenty…