This is Kate’s mother writing.
Off to Narnia. Kate died at home as she wanted, on 25th December at 6.29 a.m. Ten minutes before Oscar and Isaac asked ‘Is it morning?’ – so just long enough for Billy to hold her hand and say goodbye before stocking-opening, which of course cannot be delayed.
Not properly making Christmas really didn’t matter to her. It was, after all, just another Thursday.
I’d like to say it was all peaceful. It was at the end, but not all the time. The thing is, they don’t tell you about dying. John Diamond, Philip Gould – Kate’s cancer canon – they stop writing when they can’t focus any more. So the unbroadcast pain, the indignities and the long hours of waiting are forgotten, like childbirth.
Kate’s last two weeks were characterised by the same qualities that marked her life. There was care for others: were we all OK, would we be OK, how could she make it OK for us? There was a decision not to complain. And there was a fierce need to control and order ( ‘What’s the plan? But what is the plan?’). So rather than sinking gently into the arms of diamorphine, she thoroughly disliked its parallel bonkers world – which variously involved Homeland, estate agents, buying three flats, little baby girls, and being Shakira (why?). Once when talking with us and her nurses, she said: ‘I’m finding it hard, not being able to connect to people. Like I’m having this conversation but not living it.’ Living and partly living.
Thank you all for the letters, films and memories you sent. They were moving and cheering. Here are just a few.
The first email ever sent by Kathleen Gross, Kate’s 100 year old Grandear, just as she typed it on her I-pad:
From: Kathleen Gross
Sent: 16 December 2014 12:15
Kate looking Through. Old. Photos of. When we. W ere young. quite
it. Was. Lovely. To. Go. Shopping. With. You. And. Have. A good. Gossip.
Oh. Dear. My. Carer. Has. Just. Arrived. To. Lock. Me. In. For. The.
Night. ha ha
Sweet. Dreams. My. Lovely. One.
And lastly here is one that the Knights will like one day, when they have read Kate’s Late Fragments. It was sent by a fellow author.
Charlotte Brontë, reading her mother’s letters in 1850 (her mother had died in 1821) writes:
“A few days since, a little incident happened which curiously touched me. Papa put into my hands a little packet of letters and papers, telling me that they were mamma’s, and that I might read them. I did read them, in a frame of mind I cannot describe. The papers were yellow with time, all having been written before I was born. It was strange now to peruse, for the first time, the records of a mind whence my own sprang; and most strange, and at once sad and sweet, to find that mind of a truly fine, pure, and elevated order. They were written to papa before they were married. There is a rectitude, a refinement, a constancy, a modesty, a sense, a gentleness about them indescribable. I wish she had lived, and that I had known her.”
We are all so glad to have known her.
Kate’s book Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life) was published on the 5th of January. Click to order your copy today.