• Brimley 90s party picture with cheer uniforms

    90s Party

    When Claire was in kindergarten, Shawn and I teamed up with two other couples to throw a party to benefit our kids’ elementary school. Since that first time, the now-infamous 90s party has happened every spring at our house. This year would be no different, and part of that was because of Shawn. When he was in the hospital, I remember telling him that we’d do things to protect his immunity during the chemo treatments, including cancelling the 90s party. “What?” he’d said, horrified, when I brought it up. “You can’t cancel it!” So we decided we’d throw the party anyway, and figure out a venue later, if Shawn was still…

  • Marjorie Brimley with husband Shawn at the birth of their son Tommy in hospital
    New Perspectives

    Brave Through It

    I woke up Wednesday morning with a smile on my face. I can’t remember the last time that happened. The night before, I received a text from my closest friend at work that she had delivered her first child, a boy. I had lived through her pregnancy in a way that I hadn’t ever done with my other friends. I remember helping her navigate the early days of pregnancy, getting baby bump pictures while I was in the hospital with Shawn and watching my daughter tenderly touch her belly at Shawn’s funeral. When I came back to work, we talked a lot about my life, which was sad, but we…

  • Austin Brimley fishing on camping trip in Virginia
    Missing Shawn

    The Last Perfect Weekend

    Last weekend, on three of the prettiest days of the spring, I found myself back in a place that I loved. I was cabin camping with my kids and our dear friends, a trip that we’ve done every six months for many years. Tommy climbed into my lap that afternoon and I rocked him in the rocking chair on the back porch of my cabin as I chatted with my friends. The other kids explored the forest and rode their bikes. One of the guys made us a batch of margaritas, and we toasted to a great weekend. Just about then, I looked down and realized that Tommy was asleep.…

  • Getting Brimley kids ready for school in DC before becoming a widow
    Family & Friends

    “I’m at Trader Joe’s, What Do You Need?”

    In the early days of Shawn’s illness, I was home trying to organize the kids for school the next day. Our families had not yet arrived, and I was trying to figure out how to get Austin to his early Spanish class the next morning. Desperate, I texted our friends Mark and Chris, who live behind us and have a son named Grant who often plays with my kids. “If I’m remembering correctly, Grant has French on Tuesday mornings” I wrote. “If that’s the case, is there any way that Austin can go to school with Grant tomorrow? He has Spanish and I just can’t figure out how to get…

  • Brimley family enjoying a beautiful view together before Shawn Brimley's death
    Things That Suck

    Costco and the Cemetery

    The cemetery where Shawn is buried is wild and beautiful, filled with trees and migrating birds and simple headstones in the ground.  It is a peaceful and truly contemplative place, and though it’s right outside the city, it feels like the countryside.  When I chose the cemetery, I chose it for all of these reasons.  I also chose it because it’s right next to Costco. I know.  But hear me out.  I wanted to go to Shawn’s grave, sit there and think about our life together, grieve for him, remember him…and do it more than once a year.  I wanted to make it part of my regular life, and well,…

  • Brimley family on a birthday wagon ride before becoming a widow

    My 39th Birthday…

    …the first one without Shawn since number 22. I love my birthday. When I got the news that our third child was due on my 35th birthday, I cried.  Not my most mature moment, for sure, but February 25th is my day. Shawn knew this.  And every year he planned for it.  Last year he got a group of friends together and we sang karaoke until the wee hours of the night.  Shawn and I started out with our favorite song – Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”  It was the first song we sang together the night we met, in the late summer of 2001 in Japan.  There are…