• Bouquet of flowers for DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Family & Friends

    Bring Meatballs

    He brought meatballs. It was 2017 and it was freezing that evening in December when my neighbor Mark showed up at the side door, a steaming bowl of meatballs in his arms. It was enough to feed twenty people, and though it was almost comical how much food he’d brought, I didn’t laugh at the quantity. I appreciated it. Shawn was so sick that I didn’t really know what else to do besides accept everything that came my way. And the meatballs were so good, so filling, so hot and so full of love. I was really appreciative, but I didn’t write him a thank-you card. It was okay. I…

  • Tommy in yard of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    The View From Across the Street

    Our house is on a funny corner in DC. The way that it’s situated, we have a lot more interactions with the people behind us than we do with the people in front of us. I have almost daily exchanges with the neighbors behind us – we have kids with similar ages, and throughout the years (and especially this pandemic) our children have played together in the alley. That alley behind our house is where Tommy learned to ride his bike as the neighbors cheered him on; it’s the place Austin went every day after school to play and eat dinner with his friend Grant’s family; it’s the alley where…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's children eat with neighbor family at counter
    Family & Friends

    How My Son Found Family Across the Alley

    My eight-year-old, Austin, has always held his feelings close.  When his father died last January, I worried about how he would fare in the world without the man who understood him best.  His older sister talked openly with me about her emotions and his younger brother cried any time I left his sight. But Austin’s grief was quiet.  I only knew he was sad whenever I found him curled up in our recliner looking at family photos. I was worried about my son, but I was also consumed by my own grief, and that meant that I could not organize all of the play dates and other activities my children…

  • Marjorie Brimley's backyard in Washington DC
    Things That Suck

    No Ma’am

    I came home from work yesterday to find three ladders in my back yard. They extended from my property across the fence and onto my neighbor’s roof. I did not put them there, but my dad reported that the workers next door had done it without asking. My kids were running wild near the ladders and I started screaming that they needed to go inside. I mean, take a look at that cover picture – it’s pretty insane. I tried texting my neighbors, but I couldn’t immediately reach them. I barely know them anyway, as they bought the house a few months before Shawn got sick and still haven’t moved…

  • Brimley children and Grant sitting on steps in Washington DC

    The First Day of School

    I missed my kids’ first day of school last year.  My hometown of Albany, Oregon was one of the best places to see the total solar eclipse of 2017 and so instead of walking my kids to their first day of school, I watched the eclipse with my dad and sister.  I don’t regret it, because it was amazing.  But it meant that Shawn did the first day of school by himself.  He was a capable father, so this wasn’t a huge deal, and he texted me photos of the kids walking to school with their friends that morning. I don’t have our text exchange saved, but I do remember…

  • Brimley backyard in Washington DC
    Things That Suck

    A Beautiful Day

    Is there anything worse than crying in the middle of a really beautiful day? I’m talking about a really beautiful day. You know what I mean. Those perfect days, where the temperature is just right and there’s fun music coming from over the neighbor’s fence and you can smell someone grilling? The kind of day that we all live for – the kind of day where you say, “Isn’t it great to be alive?” I used to have that feeling a lot. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said that exact phrase, “Isn’t it great to be alive?” and truly meant it. Now I just feel grateful to…