• Marjorie Brimley laughing with friends after becoming a widow
    New Perspectives

    The Power of the Word “Widow”

    A few weeks ago, I heard through friends that the General Manager of Millie’s, our favorite neighborhood restaurant, had died after being shot a few weeks prior.  He left behind a wife and baby.  I didn’t know them, but I can’t stop thinking about his family.  Many people I know posted things on social media or shared text messages about what had happened.  Everyone expressed sympathy for his wife.  I reached out to a few friends who knew her, offering condolences and any help I could offer when she’s ready. But you know what I felt for her?  Sympathy.  “It’s so awful,” I said to my sister.  “Another young widow.”…

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley on their wedding day

    An Anniversary of Sorts

    Shawn and I were married when I was 25 and he had just turned 27.  Back home in small-town Oregon, many of my friends were already married by 25.  But my friends outside of my hometown were somewhat scandalized.  At some point during our engagement, I overheard one friend ask another, “how long have they actually even known each other?”  Another dear friend of mine asked me, “are you sure you want to marry Shawn?  Like, for the rest of your life? You’re only 25!”  None of these people really knew Shawn.  They only knew that I was deciding to get married at a fairly young age. But everyone who…

  • Claire and Marjorie Brimley hugging in DC alley
    Missing Shawn

    Do You Know What Makes Me Nervous?

    How the hell am I going to do this? No really, how the hell am I going to raise three young kids without Shawn? There’s literally a decade left before I send the first one to college, and I really don’t know what I’m doing right now, much less how I’m going to figure it out in the future. Some days, it just feels damn near impossible to know how to parent alone. Take tonight. I took the kids out with friends for a fun kid-themed dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. There was entertainment and the kids were all so excited. But I couldn’t even get through the appetizer before…

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley black and white photo before illness
    New Perspectives

    Who Am I?

    Last night, a friend of mine flew in from out of town and we had dinner.  We met up on 14th street and both marveled about how much it had changed from when we were in our 20s and roaming around on a Saturday night.  We had a great meal and got caught up with each other.  But at this point in time, dinner with me is never just one where I gossip with my friends.  It’s almost always a pretty intense affair. I think when I start talking about my life, it also brings out the serious side in some of my friends as well.  As we ate our…

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley in love holding hands
    Family & Friends

    I Knew You Before

    Sometimes, when I try to remember my life before Shawn, I draw a blank.  I can remember fun college parties, my awesome job working at a summer camp, and a general warm feeling about childhood.  But right now, everything still seems a bit hazy, and thus my memories aren’t always so clear.  For those memories, I need people from way back when.  I need people like my friend Gabrielle. Gabe and I met in Italy, thrown together as roommates in a city where we didn’t speak the language or know the culture.  It was the spring of 2000, and we were young and stupid and adventurous.  We had a deliriously…

  • Tommy Brimley fixing things in our house two years before Shawn died
    Things That Suck

    Who’s Saving Our Basement?

    About a week after Shawn died the washing machine broke and the basement shower drain plugged. I had eight people in the house (me, my kids, my dad, my aunt and my two friends Kelly and Paige) and all of the sudden, nothing worked. A plumber eventually fixed the shower, but the washing machine was dead. Luckily, I figured out that if I just washed everything on “quick wash” I could get the machine to work for about 15 minutes. And so, for the next month, I washed everything on that setting. This wasn’t the only thing that started to atrophy when Shawn died. It seemed like everything did. I…