Quick Before it Melts

Kate McGarrigle 1946-2010

by  |  January 20, 2010  |  2 Comments

(photo: mcgarrigles.com)

I lost my father to cancer 10 years ago, and as any child who’s seen their parent suffer at the hands of this disease will tell you, there’s nothing worse than watching your parent wither, except for the gaping void they leave in you when they finally are at peace.  So, when I heard the news on CBC Radio yesterday morning that Kate McGarrigle had lost her four-year battle with liver cancer, I was stricken with a familiar feeling, one I get in the pit of my stomach after hearing news like this.  I find it difficult to describe the feeling, except to say that it comes from an instant feeling that there was something I should have done in order to prevent this tragedy, and I suddenly realize that I didn’t do, say, or think the right thing.  I know it must sound very self-centered and egotistical for me to say that I even for a second entertained the notion that there was something I could have done or said to change these events, but it’s really about empathy, and knowing, to a certain general degree, what Rufus and Martha Wainwright are going through today, and what they’ll be facing in the coming days.

I wish I had something more eloquent to say about Kate McGarrigle then that she was a national treasure, an inspiring matriarch, and her passing will leave a hole in our national consciousness to match the hole she’ll leave behind in her family.  I don’t think I could possibly say it any better than Carl Wilson did yesterday, so I point in that that direction here.  Rufus Wainwright also paid special tribute to his “Sweet and valiant explorer” here.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the family, and encourage you to consider a donation to the Kate McGarrigle Fund, which supports cancer care and research at the McGill University Cancer Centre.

MP3: Kate & Anna McGarrigle “Goodnight Sweetheart (feat. Martha and Rufus Wainwright)”
MP3: Rufus Wainwright “Beauty Mark”



  1. Sarah says:

    Thank-you for posting this. When I heard the news the other day I was on my way to the park and showed up there on the verge of tears, unable to even explain to anyone why, since nobody would know who she was (I’m in Texas). So sad, such a loss for Canada.

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