“Katherine passed away a few moments ago.”

The message came to me at 8:54 a.m. on Saturday morning. I read it twice, then put down the phone and closed my eyes. I summoned her forth in my mind, an exercise I could carry out with ease; though I have not seen Katherine Reed since 2012, she’s been in my thoughts many times since. Her voice and spirit and smile and passion come to me at unexpected times, when I hear Patsy Cline singing “Crazy,” or as I’m preparing a beef roast for the oven. And if an Adele song enters my ears, that’s it. Katherine is there.

Katherine Reed

You see, Katherine had a beautiful voice, and she loved to cook and eat and entertain. (She also loved to play poker, and I’ll never forget the evening in Dubai during which she vanquished the rest of us at the table. There were four or five players, and one by one she took ownership of our chips. At the end, she and I alone remained, both competitive, both wanting to win. Katherine wanted it more.)

Katherine and her parents, Clive and Jana Reed

Angela and I spent many an evening with Katherine and her husband, Lee McGorie, and their son Ryan at their home in Dubai, and the kitchen was always full of activity. Katherine would never do a meal halfway, and the counters groaned under the weight of spices and jars and bottles. Everywhere were cutting boards full of onions and carrots, pots and pans and baking sheets ready for the oven and stovetop. We ate well in that home.

Lee and I were colleagues at a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, and I liked him immediately. A quiet and kind man, sensitive, caring, a Geordie who loved Katherine with a profound and deep emotion. He and I would sit over beers and discuss football or journalism, or office comings and goings, the usual things friends talk about, but nary a conversation was had that didn’t include mention (at least) of Katherine. Lee admired her, truly admired and loved and desired her, and he lived to make her happy.

Back to the night of the poker game. I think it was the first time I had met Katherine. Seamus (another college at the newspaper) and I had driven up from Abu Dhabi that afternoon, at the invitation of Lee. The plan was to have dinner with them at their home and open some wine, enjoy a weekend evening. I recall that Katherine cooked pasta, and there was a salad of some sort. It was delicious food, and I recognized right away that she thoroughly enjoyed hosting people, making people feel at home. It’s an art and a soulful and graceful thing to do. The knowledge that I’ll never again sit down to a meal made by her hands and heart makes life less bright.

Lee McGorie and Katherine Reed, along with Jana and Clive Reed

On that evening, I was also introduced to Katherine’s love of dogs. They had two at the time, rescue dogs. She volunteered for an animal society, and heaven help the person mistreating an animal around her. Katherine’s heart was big when it came to her loves. She loved her family, was proud of her parents, Clive and Jana, and the day she introduced them to me was a good one. She loved Lee and Ryan with ferocity. I grieve for them.

Katherine fell ill earlier this year, and she left this earth far too early. Goddamn it, she was 38.

When I read Lee’s note yesterday morning, after I got up from the chair in which I was sitting, a few lines of a poem came to mind. I’d heard them on an episode of “On Being,” and their mystical vision has stayed with me since.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you …

I’ve been thinking about Katherine a lot this weekend, and I wish I had reached out to her and Lee more often in the years since I left Dubai. I will make up for that now with Lee and Ryan.

I’ve written the complete poem here, and I dedicate it to all of those in pain, everyone who’s missing Katherine right now. We are less without her.

“Beannacht”
By John O’Donohue
From To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

Katherine and her sister, Amanda Reed-Kelly