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December 25, 2014 / Billy Boyle

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Narnia

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 canonthey 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 worldwhich 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

impressed ,,

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.

Grandear.

Here is a poem for dying by, sent to Kate by one of her oldest friends. It is called The Curtain, by Greta Stoddart http://www.gretastoddart.co.uk/poems/new-poems.

And lastly here is one that the Knights will like one day, when they have read Kates 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.

Help us remember Kate by making a donation to Street Child who are building a school in Sierra Leone, named after Kate, to help children get the education they deserve – learn more. 

100 Comments

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  1. Bob Eagle / Dec 25 2014 7:30 pm

    In the midst of all the fun and festivities I am so grateful that you took the time to bring us this last post with the news of the passing of our colleague. So sorry for all of you but recognising that Kate is now beyond pain. May I offer my sincerest condolences to the family. We were all privileged to know Kate.

  2. Georgia Pope / Dec 25 2014 7:30 pm

    God bless you all x

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Liz / Dec 25 2014 8:07 pm

    So sorry that a bright light has dimmed in your life. Her life will never be extinguished in your hearts. May you find some peace in the coming weeks and remember Kate often with laughter rather than tears. She was and is such an inspiration in her beautiful writings. Kindest thoughts to you all and to Kate.
    From Liz

  4. Sarah Jp / Dec 25 2014 8:11 pm

    I don’t think that there are really any words that I can express to you and your family at this time which will come any where close to the deep intense pain of loss you must all undoubtedly be feeling on the very sad news of the passing of Kate this morning, but I felt, I must send you all my very deepest condolences, and express my thanks to Kate for allowing us to share her life & her onward journey to Narnia..

  5. amandajanebrown3 / Dec 25 2014 8:25 pm

    How beautifully she wrote and how she loved her boys, her husband and her family and friends. Thinking of all her inner circle.

  6. Kate / Dec 25 2014 8:33 pm

    Oh my goodness, so she made it to today, yet she didn’t quite. In terms of her life though, she absolutely made it. Thank you for posting this, Kate has been in my thoughts all day, hoping she was still here to celebrate it one last time. I never met her but her beautiful writing has touched me so deeply, and I know I’m not alone. Wishing you, her family, Herculean strength for the days, months and years ahead, and Kate safe passage through the wardrobe and a soft landing on the other side. I’m so sorry, Kate x

  7. glenn.abbassi@btinternet.com / Dec 25 2014 8:33 pm

    Devastated! But so very pleased you had such a wonderful daughter who must have made you so proud. Her boys and Billy will need all your love and support – which you will give in abundance.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

  8. Emma / Dec 25 2014 8:38 pm

    “Those we love don’t go away,
    they walk beside us every day.
    Unseen, unheard,
    but always near,
    so loved, so missed,
    so very dear.”

    Thinking of you all. Emma xx

  9. louise / Dec 25 2014 8:47 pm

    To the brave knights, even on your darkest days there will be an angel by your side to guide you along the way.

  10. Emma / Dec 25 2014 9:09 pm

    “Those we love don’t go away,
    they walk beside us every day.
    Unseen, unheard,
    but always near,
    so loved, so missed,
    so very dear.”

    Thinking of you all.
    Emma xxx

  11. zoestellacurrie / Dec 25 2014 9:09 pm

    Kate has been in my thoughts all day and to read this beautiful, sad post makes me cry but so happy that she was at home with you all, her wonderous family. I only met her here and I bloody wish I had met her in the world. She is such a marvellous writer. I am not long behind her on this vile cancer nuisance, similar age, married, 2 children and we met through our blogs. Her writing and her intelligence and her love and humour spoke clear through her words. God, she is marvellous.

    I am so sorry for all of you: I will hold you close in my thoughts as you stumble through these bruised days. I am glad she made it to Narnia and I one day will push my own muffled way through the flufferty furry coats, following her footprints and out into….what. (A cup of tea and fruit cake at a kindly creatures tree stump home).

    She is light.
    With love
    zoe

  12. Phoebe / Dec 25 2014 9:33 pm

    I’m deeply saddened to hear Kate’s battle has come to an end and so very sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for taking the time to let us all know today – I was so hoping that there wouldn’t be an update of this nature but a feeling in the pit of my stomach told me to check.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    With love,
    Phoebe

  13. Amadou Bah / Dec 25 2014 9:44 pm

    I met you once Kate and I am so glad to know you. I feel sad to learn that. I will pray for you and all my support to your family. I will never forget you.

  14. Laurie Lee / Dec 25 2014 9:50 pm

    No matter how long the struggle the end is always sudden. I’m sad to hear this news but pleased that once again Kate over achieved and made it to one more Christmas morning, as she said she wanted to in her last piece for the Times.
    As I wrote before to Kate, her boys will still overachieve and go on with their lives and make Billy and Kate’s family proud. But looking forward is for another day. Today I remember a remarkable selfless person who did so much for all her concentric circles including strangers all over the world. The world will miss you Kate and thanks to you will never forget you.
    Love, Laurie

  15. Val / Dec 25 2014 10:28 pm

    Farewell to a very courageous and inspiring lady. Kate you will be sadly missed by so many people whose lives you have touched. You leave a legacy in your sons and they will benefit from all you have been to them and others.
    Be at peace
    Val

  16. Hilary / Dec 25 2014 10:45 pm

    I am so sorry to read of Kate’s passIng. She is very much in my prayers this Christmas night – as are all of you of course.

    Kate wrote so honestly and she touched my heart and I, like many, will not forget her.

    Much love x

  17. Kate N / Dec 25 2014 10:51 pm

    Ahh, lovely Kate, rippling out through your wonderful words. So very loved, from the epicentre outwards. Thinking of you and yours this Christmas night. Kate xx
    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/you-can-shed-tears-that-she-is-gone-or-you-can/763356.html

  18. Ruth French (Catchpole) / Dec 25 2014 11:05 pm

    A very bright light is now shining in another room.

    Thank you to Kate and to you all

  19. georginabadrudin / Dec 25 2014 11:45 pm

    So very, very sad for your loss. Many thanks for taking the time to update. I have been keeping you all in my thoughts constantly over the last few weeks and wishing for as peaceful and pain free a passing for Kate as possible, perhaps naively in light of todays post.

    How bittersweet to have lost her on Christmas Day. She was so strong to have hung on for so long and it sounds as though she would have been very much still with you as the fruits of her planning for today were revealed in the boys stockings and elsewhere. Am sure you will miss her very much.

    Thank god for the boys in whom she will live on in so many way.
    From a great admirer,
    With love and deepest sympathy,
    Georgina

  20. standfast / Dec 25 2014 11:47 pm

    Kate’s writing impressed and moved me very deeply, and though I’ve never met her, I have found myself thinking of her so often as Christmas approached, and hoping desperarately that she would make it. Thank you so much for posting this, in a time of such sorrow for all your family. My heart goes out to you all.

  21. Ruth Ayliffe / Dec 25 2014 11:48 pm

    Billy, Oscar, Isaac, Jean and the rest of the inner circle, there is no comprehending your loss. Your beloved Kate will live on through her magnificent words and deeds and in the hearts and memories of so many. I’m honoured to have known her. She was a colossus. May you find the strength you need to get through these dark days.

  22. kirab / Dec 26 2014 12:16 am

    Thank you for taking the time to post this desperately sad news today.

    I, like others, have thought of Kate, Billy and the Knights so many times, today and over the last few days and months. I don’t know what made me check her blog this evening; I guess I was hoping to hear that she’d made it to Christmas, to spend it with her Dearest. I so hoped she would. And, ultimately, it sounds like she did – handing over her reins to Billy as she left for Narnia, having done all she could for her boys and her family. She’s with the Angels now.

    She touched my life and the lives of so many. I will think of her always. God bless Her family. Rest In Peace, Dear, Dear Kate. Thank you for the words.

    Ciara X

  23. Judy Phillpotts / Dec 26 2014 12:24 am

    There are no words…but we hold you in our thoughts and hearts.
    Judy and Greg

  24. Juliet / Dec 26 2014 12:26 am

    To Kate’s family – I never met Kate but we were both at Keble. I was completely humbled by her posts and the quality of her writing. She was clearly a gifted and accomplished person, and a loving, intuitive mother and wife. I live alongside cancer now too and reading Kate’s blogs has helped immensely to prepare us for the unexpected journey that it brutally takes you on. An extraordinary young woman. With my kindest regards and deepest respect Juliet R

  25. Andy Pike / Dec 26 2014 12:33 am

    Wow. She touched a lot of people. May God bless and keep her. She was a special girl……

  26. Chris Mann / Dec 26 2014 12:40 am

    I was late upon Kate’s story, reading her piece in The Times some weeks earlier. Just now after the usual consumption of Christmas things, as I go to bed, did I think to check where she was in her journey. So sad to read this. A heart warming and painful reminder of our own mortality and a journey which one day we all must take. All the best to you all. And may she rest in peace.

  27. Lorraine / Dec 26 2014 1:01 am

    All day I’ve hoped Kate would make it to Christmas Day… I’m so sad she wasn’t there for the stocking opening and all that followed her carefully orchestrated plan. Her legacy of words and wisdom transcends and inspires even to the outer stratesphere of the spiral where I live. Lucky all those at the centre who truly knew such a wonderful spirit. Goodbye and God Bless you, Kate.

  28. Vikki Dean / Dec 26 2014 1:21 am

    To all of Kate’s wonderful family
    Thank you for sharing this heart breaking news. Kate’s life and writings have been an inspiration. I can just imagine her wherever she is watching you all to make sure you are sticking to the plan.
    Huge love to the brave little Knights. I lost my Mum when I was little but I remember her always, live my life to make her proud and the love definitely carries forward.
    Goodbye Kate
    With much fondness from the outer edge of the spiral
    Vikki Dean

  29. Shannon / Dec 26 2014 2:28 am

    Thank you so much for sharing such difficult and heartbreaking news with everyone and understanding how much Kate’s words and teachings have meant to so many; and how we’d want to know. Now the very tough time begins for your family and I hope all of the love of the world continues to raise the ground to meet your feet as long as you may need it. Lots of love from the outer spiral.

  30. Emma / Dec 26 2014 3:48 am

    My inadequate words will not give any meaningful comfort but I wanted to offer my very deepest condolences. Goodnight, Kate

  31. Stacey Rubin / Dec 26 2014 5:10 am

    Kate will forever live in our hearts. A true inspiration as a mother, wife, friend and leader.

  32. Ruth / Dec 26 2014 5:17 am

    I am so very sorry to hear of Kate’s death. Her compassion, intelligence and her ability to see things clearly, combined with her great talent for writing, were a gift to us all. With her words, Kate made very real the courage that accompanied her on this difficult journey. She has left a great legacy to her family, particularly her Knights who she loved so dearly. I have been thinking of her daily and as Christmas approached, I hoped it would be a day she could enjoy without pain. I wish she had been granted a little more time as she used every minute so well.

    Thank you for writing to us today in the midst of your sorrow and thank you to Kate for sharing her time with us.

    Ruth

  33. clare / Dec 26 2014 5:35 am

    Thanks for sharing these precious last moments, they help us to stay real and authentic and savour each moment. May your family be surrounded by the memories and love that you have all had with Kate and now, with each other and the little Nights as they grow. Clare

  34. Shelley Goldman / Dec 26 2014 6:03 am

    Although I never met Kate her writing touched my heart. I remember thinking on Christmas Eve, hooray, despite everything she made it to Christmas ….if There are words to comfort a parent, husband or child when such a young and vibrant life ends … I don’t know them …. The world is a much poorer place for her passing… May you know no more sorrow Shelley Goldman Tel Aviv Israel Sent from my iPad

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  35. Tony Pike / Dec 26 2014 7:50 am

    What a beautiful, brave, articulate and talented lady
    My heart goes out to Billy, Isaac, Oscar and all her family – she will be sorely missed
    But her legacy will live on and Billy and their two boys will have such happy memories
    of their all-too-short time with their brilliant wife and mum
    God bless you all

  36. afeatheronthebreathofgod / Dec 26 2014 8:39 am

    ‘Liking’ this post, is simply aknowleging Kate’s courage and life. My heart goes out to all of you, her family and friends in your loss of this beautiful woman, daughter, wife, mother, friend. Words are clumsy and useless in the face of raw grief, but holding you all in silent prayer.

  37. davidgentle / Dec 26 2014 10:23 am

    I am so sorry for your devastating loss.

    I confess I don’t know Kate, or any of her friends or family, but I had been following her blog – for the last few months – with a mixture of sadness an inspiration.

    Kate’s star burned so brightly, it must make her loss seem all the harder to bear. But it also means her memory will live longer. She has touched the lives of people she never met or knew – like me. She wrote of her frustration at her lack of control, yet she was never the victim, she did all she she could and more, and her courage and dignity and humour shone out from the page.

    My thoughts are with you.

  38. Sarah / Dec 26 2014 10:51 am

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Like many others who never personally met Kate, she has left a lasting imprint on me through her incredible writing. She was so very brave to make it to Christmas morning. God bless you xx

  39. Tracey / Dec 26 2014 10:58 am

    Half of me thinks, well at least she made it to Christmas as she wanted, but the rest of me realises what a huge loss this is. Thinking of you all., with all our love xxx

  40. Emma Flynn / Dec 26 2014 11:05 am

    Our thoughts are with you all. Kate was the most wonderful person and her love for you all and living life to the full shone through. What an imprint on this world she has left.

    Sending you all our love.
    Emma and Roger

  41. Justin / Dec 26 2014 11:16 am

    Thanks for posting this Billy. So sad to hear this news and for your and the boys loss. I feel very lucky to have worked with Kate at No.10 and to have seen all the other amazing sides of her through her beautiful blogs. Take care – we’ll all be remembering her today.

  42. Jeannine / Dec 26 2014 11:34 am

    I’m so very sorry to read of Kate’s passing – I worked with her in 2000-2001 – and remember her as a warm and gutsy lady. She has been an inspiration in how to live life at its fullest and will live on in the hearts of all who love her – and most of all through her knights. I wish her family courage and strength through this very sad time.

  43. Anthony / Dec 26 2014 11:41 am

    Our thoughts are with you all. We have been thinking about Kate, the boys, Billy and all the family daily. We will continue to remember how amazing Kate was.

    All our love,
    Anthony, Helen, George and Samuel
    xxxx

  44. bananagiraffes / Dec 26 2014 12:12 pm

    Dear Kate, you tought so many of us how to live brave, selflish lives and to focus on what is important. I never met you but followed you not just because we shared a disease, but more importantly for the love of your words and outlook. I like so many of your admirers hoped for a miracle and yet the miracle has been the legacy you left in so many of us you touched. What incredible compassionate boys you will have raised as your love will ripple out. Much love to your family xxxxxxx

  45. Margaret Davis / Dec 26 2014 12:23 pm

    What do you say to someone who has lost one of their most precious people? It’s hard to say without stating platitudes or bringing out the tired words of sorrow and sadness. The turmoil of having been blessed to have had them as part of your life but then to have had them ripped from you and the anger that ensues. The desolation that never again can you ask that question “Do you remember…….?” Our children are beyond value they are our future, and our past, they make us better people and teach us patience and humility. They allowed us to get it wrong and still they loved us. They blossomed and grew into amazing human beings, Kate did all of these things and because she was loved and cherished you will gain strength to cope with the future. A future where she is no longer a physical part of your lives, but an inner strength and she lives on forever in all of you. xx

  46. Tracey Fox / Dec 26 2014 12:48 pm

    Sad for you all today but Kate’s blog gave so much to so many. She will not be forgotten. Warm wishes and much love to you all. Tracey x

  47. Helena Thybell / Dec 26 2014 12:51 pm

    Dear Kate and family, I am thinking about you and have you in my prayers. Kate was wonderful and I am so sorry for your loss. Warm regards from Helena who met Kate through AGI xxx

  48. vicky / Dec 26 2014 12:54 pm

    I have only just discovered Kate’s writing and plan to go back and read all of it soon when I feel stronger.
    My mum died at the same time yesterday and the pain, indignity and waiting was the worst part.
    I am so pleased for you all – and for Kate – that she has some peace now. And that her boys saw her to say goodbye. Much love to you all xxx.

  49. Kathleen Fred Linton-Ford / Dec 26 2014 2:23 pm

    What a very sad thing to read. May you all find strength from each other. God bless Kate, her boys, husband and parents.

    Much love,

    Fred (née Garner), also Keble English ’96

  50. Jools x / Dec 26 2014 2:47 pm

    I was late to Kate’s blog and greatly admired her dignity, eloquence and sense of humour when faced with the worst adversity. Indeed, her fortitude has helped me cope better with my own recent huge loss.

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences at the loss of a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague and blogger, a person who achieved more in 36 years that most people manage in a full lifetime of trying. I hope it is some small comfort to know that Kate touched and enriched the lives of many many people beyond her inner circle.

    Please be kind and forgiving to yourselves and each other during the coming challenging months and trust your instincts on the best way to navigate the loss. RIP Kate, thank you for the privilege of sharing your journey. x

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