• Shawn Brimley and friends on hike near Washington DC
    Family & Friends

    All Kinds of Therapy

    I can’t even remember all of the people who sat in my kitchen and listened to me cry in the first few weeks of Shawn’s diagnosis.  But I do remember them being there, and listening to me, and not usually knowing what to say, but staying nonetheless.  They validated my feelings that things were horrible, that it was unfair, and that everything was impossible.  “Of course you’re overwhelmed/frustrated/terribly sad” said everyone.  No one tried to cheer me up with ridiculous optimism, and almost everyone let me really express my emotions. This was a far cry from how people reacted when my mom died.  Granted, I was only 19, so most people…

  • Marjorie Brimley walking as a single parent with daughter Claire

    First Day Back

    When I went to put on my shoes this morning, I realized they were caked with mud.  For a moment, I was confused.  But then I remembered – the last time I wore these shoes was at Shawn’s burial on that freezing January day. Ugh.  It was the first thing to trigger my grief and it was only 6:30 in the morning.  And today was going to be a big day, because it was my first day back at work since early January.  I actually worked through a lot of Shawn’s hospital stay, because we thought he would eventually be okay and someone needed to make sure to maintain a steady…

  • 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…