Yesterday, as she lay in a hospital bed surrounded by adoring family and friends, I was able to say goodbye to my dear friend Kate O’Beirne. Breathing had become difficult, and she wore an oxygen mask. Her two handsome and devoted sons, her “saintlike” (her word) husband Jim, and her three sisters were there, along with the friends who couldn’t stay away. It’s the only time I’ve ever been in a room with Kate that she didn’t say anything witty.
Kate O’Beirne was brilliant and hilarious and generous and good. Her personality was radiant. She spoke fast, and would often introduce new information with ”as you know.” But few knew as much as she. It just one of her stylistic accommodations to the reality that practically no one could keep up.
When she was a law student interviewing for a firm, a partner asked her where she pictured herself in 10 years. “Five years older,” she winked. Speaking of a prominent Republican politician who was on his third wife, she quipped “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opening.”
There are countless examples of her sterling wit, and her quite deep wisdom. She lit up every gathering, and enlivened every conversation. Never once did she pick up the phone without making you feel that the one thing in the world she most wanted was to speak to you at that moment.
Unlike so many who become famous, Kate never let it go to her head. She was plugged in and seemed to know everyone, but her self-esteem didn’t rely on being known. This woman was grounded in the permanent things: her family, her church, and her friends. The hole she leaves in our lives and hearts is vast. RIP.