She‘s been gone three years now. I owe her so much – more than
I realized as she lay dying – and wish I could talk to her about, well, everything. Almost every news story makes me wish she were still here to offer her crackling take on it.
This is how I remember Catherine Seipp:Wagging her finger at someone, killing us all with her ferocious wit, at a dinner party I threw in LA in 2005. Cathy was so smart, so wise, so valuable that the fact she chose to befriend me and bring me into her fold of freaky geniuses really messed with my head. I’m so much richer for her generosity. Cathy’s final gift to me came a few weeks before her death. I flew to LA from London to look after her for a week. I worried that I would mess up; Cathy had very definite ideas about how things should be done. Her friends called them “Cathy’s rules”. But Nancy, whose great friendship I gained thanks to an intro from Cathy, had just flown down from Portland to help out, and calmed my fears by telling me: “She will let you take care of her.”
And she did! I cooked a dozen new dishes for her to try, and she’d cut out recipes from the New York Times that she wanted me to bake. I made her many milkshakes, packed with dates, bananas, and ice cream, in the hope that she’d put on some weight. I helped her drain her lung, and refilled her hot water bottle every few hours, and told her she was not – as she feared – “a big bore” for dying a horrible death.
Cathy talked about she and her daughter taking a trip to Kentucky with me to ride horses. I excitedly related her optimism to her dear father, who didn’t look at me as he said, “She’s not going anywhere. I picked out her burial plot this morning.”
I wept when I said goodbye at the end of the week, thanked her for taking me under her wing, and urged her family and lodger/friend to take care of her. Of course they were, but I didn’t know what else to say. I couldn’t believe she’d soon be gone.
Three years later, I cannot comprehend the finality of losing Cathy. I
hope I never can.