Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About this Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross
Published by William Collins
5th January 2015
What are the things we live for? What matters most in life when your time is short? This brave, frank and heartbreaking book shows what it means to die before your time; how to take charge of your life and fill it with wonder, hope and joy even in the face of tragedy.
Ambitious and talented, Kate Gross worked at Number 10 Downing Street for two British Prime Ministers whilst only in her twenties. At thirty, she was CEO of a charity working with fragile democracies in Africa. She had married 'the best looking man I've ever kissed' – and given birth to twin boys in 2008. The future was bright.
But aged 34, Kate was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. After a two-year battle with the disease, Kate died peacefully at home on Christmas morning, just ten minutes before her sons awoke to open their stockings.
She began to write as a gift to herself, a reminder that she could create even as her body began to self-destruct. Written for those she loves, her book is not a conventional cancer memoir; nor is it filled with medical jargon or misery.
Instead, it is Kate's powerful attempt to make sense of the woman who emerged in the strange, lucid final chunk of her life. Her book aspires to give hope and purpose to the lives of her readers even as her own life drew to its close.
Kate should have been granted decades to say all that she says in these pages. Denied the chance to bore her children and grandchildren with stories when she became fat and old, she offers us all instead her thoughts on how to live; on the wonder to be found in the everyday; the importance of friendship and love; what it means to die before your time and how to fill your life with hope and joy even in the face of tragedy.
This is the first book in my attempt to include more non-fiction on the blog, and boy is it a powerful one. Can I firstly say a huge thank you to Katherine Josselyn for sending me a copy of this book to read over Christmas, I feel very privileged to have been able to read Kate's story.
So, the tale is this, a 29 year old woman who has bowel issues, goes to her doctor and has a sigmoidoscopy . When faced with later bowel issues, she tells medical staff that it is okay because this has been looked at via a colonoscopy and everything is fine. However, it is not, and when she practically collapses on a flight home, a trip to the hospital reveals stage 4 colon cancer - there is no stage 5.
Kate Gross is 34, with twin boys who are just four years old. She has a fantastic career as CEO of Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), this is previous to working at 10 Downing Street for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This woman has a most promising career ahead of her, both in terms of her work and home life. This is not to be fulfilled.
This is Kate's memoir and legacy to her boys, the Knights, now almost six years old. She died at home on Christmas Day, still making sure that everyone else that survived her was going to be okay. This book is both a celebration of her life, and also of how it has changed since her diagnosis of what she terms the nusiance. It's a book that reminds you to celebrate life, and to grab it with both hands, for none of us knows how long we have been granted on this earth.
Get this book, laugh and cry as you read one woman's story, and hold on to those closest to you. Make the most of every moment that you have.