• Nana and grandkids in the pool in Texas during family reunion
    Family & Friends


    One day near the end of the school year, I picked Austin up and he insisted that we call his Nana.  “Today at school,” he told me, “we had a cake made out of ice cream for a birthday party.  I want to call Nana and see if they have those kind of cakes in Texas!” I smiled, and felt a bit guilty too.  Had I really never introduced ice cream cake to my 7-year-old? We called Nana, and she picked up on the first ring.  “Hi Nana,” Austin started. “Austin!” Nana shouted.  I could picture her face – smiling and full of life. “Guess what?” Austin asked her.  “We had…

  • Claire Brimley hugging her mom, widow Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    You’re Not Bothering Me

    “I don’t want to bother you….” starts the email.  It’s nothing new.  I get an email or a text or something like this at least a couple of times a day.  At first, when Shawn was sick and then immediately after he died, I couldn’t really process anything.  I read the emails and then never responded and I figured people understood.  If I’m being honest, I didn’t even care.  I appreciated the outreach in the immediate aftermath, but (and I’m sorry here for everyone who helped me) I honestly can’t really remember who did what.  I was in such a fog. I’m not totally out of that fog yet, but…

  • 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…

  • Shawn Brimley with a pumpkin on his head for Halloween
    Missing Shawn

    There’s No Crying at the Swim-Up Bar

    It was beautiful – paradise in fact – and there I was, crying at the swim-up bar. The winter this year was bleak on the east coast, which in some ways was nice because the weather matched my emotional state. But months of grief and ice were getting to me and to my kids and spring break beckoned. So, we packed everything up and headed south, to somewhere that would maybe provide an escape from all the cold and misery and death. For the first few days, it was bliss, or as close to bliss as I’d felt since early fall. The weather was perfect and the beach was beautiful.…