As some of you may remember, I didn't say too much about my wife when we got married back in 2001. I had expected the words to come naturally, but when the moment came, summarising what Kathryn meant to me proved too formidable a challenge. I was speechless - a state into which Kathryn all too often plunged me. But with that loss of words came the loss of an opportunity to acknowledge what a unique and wonderful woman I had married. Today I want belatedly to remedy that, with utmost regret that I must struggle to express in my words what Kathryn should by rights be demonstrating by her deeds.
Kathryn wasn't much on eulogies. She felt that unalloyed praise strips its subjects of their humanity, and wanted people to remember her as she was, not as some idealised image. I've borne that in mind when writing this, but I've also borne in mind that Kathryn erred mostly when she took her virtues to excess. So I'll tell you today only about Kathryn's virtues; and as to her flaws, I'll note only that she never did anything by halves.
That Kathryn would want an unvarnished tribute itself testifies to her characteristic and perpetual honesty. She was notoriously bad at lying. That inability had less to do with her technical command of the Machiavellian arts - which she had studied in a spirit of intellectual curiosity - than with her devotion to truth and plain speaking, which made deceit in all its shades unthinkable.
For her, falsehood was the enemy of justice - and that made it difficult for her to comprehend or tolerate the devious, unscrupulous, unthinking and unkind. Kathryn could never look the other way or keep her head down: she would never allow laziness or malice to go unchallenged, no matter how much trouble, inconvenience or embarrassment that might cause. She fought tirelessly for fairness, both for herself and for others.
That spirit of fairness reflected her belief that all people are worthy of respect: she asked only that they respond in kind. It was not for nothing that she had a reputation as "the miss who tells the truth" among the children she worked with - children whose hearts and minds she won by neither talking down nor looking up to them. That open-faced, even-handed approach won her friends everywhere we went: among Hopi Indians, London youth and Japanese waitresses alike.
Kathryn believed that everyone was worthy of such respect because everyone was capable of extraordinary things - a belief that was firmly grounded in her own capacity to astonish. For Kathryn was indomitable in every sense of the word. She assumed, a priori, that she could do anything that she put her mind and hand to - from construction to computing to cookery.
Remarkably, she was almost always right. (Sometimes she was a bit off on the scale of the task in hand, but nonetheless). She built furniture, repaired cars, wrote essays and made crockery; played games, drank cocktails, sang pop songs and rode horses. She would translate languages she didn't speak and give directions to places she didn't know. In short, there was no better way to get something done than to tell Kathryn she couldn't do it.
Her example taught me that there is no excuse for not trying, that fear of failure is more fearful than failure itself, and that one should not settle for adequate when excellence is in reach. Kathryn despised the mediocre and the mundane, living by William Morris' sentiment that one should tolerate nothing that is neither useful nor beautiful. In fact, at our first meeting she went considerably further, by telling me that she wanted nothing in her life that was not both useful and beautiful.
And in that respect, her greatest subject was herself. Over the course of her life, she transformed herself from duckling to swan; from rambler to globetrotter; from dropout to scholar. Some of this transformation was the result of heritage, upbringing and time. But much of it was achieved by the exercise of Kathryn's formidable will, a force of nature that knew no boundaries and was unfettered by convention or received wisdom. Kathryn was never afraid to assert what she was, what she had to offer or what she stood for.
And the reason that she could do this was because she was passionate about everything she did, about everything she believed: for her, there were few causes not worth fighting; few moments not worth seizing; few sensations not worth savouring. Kathryn was animated, eloquent and persuasive; her enthusiasm was infectious and her excitement evangelical; and she worked hard to imbue her acts, thoughts and possessions with constant, almost symbolic meaning.
It was that passionate quality that first attracted me to her. Kathryn and I knew from almost the moment we met that we were meant for each other: it was obvious that I had met someone whose vitality and energy would carry her through our life together without hesitation or doubt, someone whose appetite for the new, the rare and the splendid would never tire or fade. Kathryn knew everything and could do everything; and everything that she did not know, or could not do, she made it her business to learn post-haste.
She also wanted to see everything there was to see, and that took us to a great many astonishing occasions and places, from Iceland in the winter to the Sahara in summer, and many points in-between. We enjoyed a great many amazing experiences along the way. But for me, the true joy of our journeys lay not in the destination, nor the getting there, but in being with my wife as she looked with eyes wide open at people and places new. For me, the purpose of travelling was not to visit places I had never seen: it was to watch my wife rejoice in the warmth of a life worth living.
For warmth was another constant in our marriage. Kathryn was ever loving, ever affectionate, ever tolerant. She understood and pandered to my foibles, with a generosity of spirit that even in her last days saw her trying to make me happy, to prevent the circle of our relationship from breaking open. She succeeded, and I can only hope that I reciprocated in full.
Her own wants and needs were simple: to love and be loved. And I did love her, and she loved me, the kind of open and undemanding love that requires few explanations and no apologies. When I was weak, she was strong; when I needed her, she was there for me. I said before that Kathryn did nothing by halves, and that included her marriage and her friendships: she gave and expected undiluted, uncomplicated and unconditional love and support.
Kathryn may be gone, but that love and support continues today. Her love continues to sustain me, both in the knowledge of its clarity and in the closeness it has brought among her family and friends. It would be dishonest, in the spirit I began with, to say that Kathryn would not want us to be sad today, or for the weeks and months to come. It will take time for us all to move on. But she would want us now and forever to cherish what she gave us and honour her memory.
And the best way to do that is to lead our lives with passion, courage and honesty, just as she sought to lead hers: from her first breath to her last and with each and every beat of her heart.