Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Babette

14 August 2021

Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Director 

Babette Bluett-Duncan

Babette

I am very sorry to tell you that Babette died peacefully at home on Sunday evening. She was in the bed that we’d set up in our main room (that we live, cook, eat and talk in) and she died in the late afternoon of last Sunday 8th August. Despite the ample warning that we’d had, I’d naively thought this would lessen the blow. It didn’t seem to. She was my closest friend, the person with whom I could discuss anything, however controversial, and without fear of judgement and there existed between us a deep appreciation of the other. I suppose this is what is very often referred to as love. Her death hit me and my three children like a sledgehammer, and that is roughly where we still are, as I write this on Thursday morning. 

Has it all been misery? No, in fact early that evening, Shirley and Helen, two of Babette’s closest friends came round to “say goodbye” before the undertakers took her body away. We opened a bottle of wine and sat round enjoying memories of Babette, and there was a good deal of laughter mixed in there, along with a variety of other emotions. Josie remarked the next day that she hadn’t expected to be laughing and enjoying herself so shortly after her mum died. She’d expected everyone to just be sad and maudlin. But in fact for us there’s been a mixture of emotions, happy memories that bring laughter, tears of joy, and tears of sadness and of loss, and a few sledgehammer moments thrown in for good measure. 

I’m aware that this will have been a shock to you, especially if you’ve met her in the past or felt you knew her through her writing the updates, or maybe you knew her quite well. So, if this describes you, then thank you for joining me, my family, my colleagues, friends and neighbours in mourning the death of a woman who enriched and often challenged the lives of those she met. 

My warm regards to you.

Andrew

P.S. If you feel moved to reply to my email, may I ask you to do so here, partly and selfishly so I don’t feel obliged to reply, and I want everyone to see how she has been seen in her life.

For instance, for me she has been such a force for questioning the status quo that, if you have example you want to share of how she touched your life, I’d be delighted to hear it and suspect others will as well.

Thank you.”

199 comments

  • Giampaolo GottiSep 09, 2021

    Cara Elisabeth,
    Mi piace parlarti nella lingua che avevi imparato cosi’ bene ai tempi in cui siamo stati insieme nella seconda metà degli anni ’80.
    Mi piace anche chiamarti nel modo in cui volevi essere chiamata a quel tempo: Elisabeth.
    Ti ho incontrata all’età di 25 anni, a un momento fondamentale della mia vita in cui, dovevo pren-dere decisioni che avrebbero influenzato definitivamente la mia esistenza.
    Con te ho fatto la scoperta della vasta gamma dei sentimenti che possono esistere fra un uomo e una donna, dall’inizio di una relazione fino alla sua fine.
    E di questo, di essere divenuto piu’ umano, ti saro’ eternamente riconoscente. Grazie Elisabeth.
    La settimana scorsa un’amica comune mi ha annunciato la tua morte e non potevo credere che una forza della natura, quale tu sei, sia scomparsa.
    Mi piace credere che questa energia, con cui investivi la tua famiglia e i tuoi amici, non sia total-mente svanita, ma sia nascosta da qualche parte dell’universo e vegli benevolmente su di loro.
    In questi ultimi 30 anni abbiamo avuto solo due brevissimi contatti scritti. In entrambi fai riferi-mento alla tua malattia: ne parli come di un dono che ti ha guidato verso le cose essenziali e agli affetti che contano.
    Le ultime parole del tuo messaggio del 7 agosto 2018 sono state le seguenti:
    My husband gave me a piano 20 years ago and the Taize booklet with the guitar chords that you wrote for me in another life has been very well used.
    Cantare insieme, come forse oggi, 9 settembre 2021, faranno i tuoi amici e familiari nel posare l’urna delle tue ceneri, è sempre stata una delle cose che piu’ amavi… Non potendo essere insieme a loro in questo bel rituale, ti mando una delle ultime canzoni che abbiamo ascoltato insieme di un cantautore che ci piaceva tanto all’epoca e di cui cantavamo spesso “Il pescatore”.
    Il brano si intitola “Ottocento”, e riunisce in sé provocazione e poesia, coraggio e gioia di vivere, qualità nelle quali, per me e per molti, sei stata maestra ed esempio.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qaerADh_lI
    Bon voyage, Elisabeth.
    Giampaolo

  • Adriana PeñaSep 06, 2021

    Dear Andrew,
    Our sincerest condolences for the loss of a beautiful soul and heart “Babette”. My father in-law from Texas, who had the pleasure of meeting Babette one day at the Banstead Store, sends his regards. We pray that she may rest in peace, and God gives you the strength to get through these moments.

    With warm regards,
    Adriana Peña.

  • Lee Barlow Aug 27, 2021

    Dear Andrew and family
    I’ve lived in Reigate for20 years and my guilty pleasure is to pop into your shop and treat myself to something little and spoken to Babette on lots of occasions .Such a charismatic lady .
    For me ,Babette and the shop were an institution and it was such a shock to hear of her passing .
    I totally get the ‘been hit with a sledgehammer comment as I’ve also lost someone close to me with cancer . Sending love to you and your family x

  • JosephineAug 22, 2021

    Just my best wishes to you all and stay close.
    Hold Babette in your heart forever but go forward when you feel able.
    She was a strong woman and would want you all to do so.
    Such a sad sad time.

  • LindaAug 21, 2021

    Dear Andrew and family – I am so sad to hear the news of Babette’s passing. What a fabulous human being she was, and a courageous, inspirational woman. It was my honour to teach the course at Metanoia Babette attended right up to a month or so before she died. The last day of the course was about dying, and it was painful for all of us knowing that she was so close to the end of her life.

    She made a huge impact on me with her warmth, directness and sometimes irreverent humour – but she was never anything other than gracious.

    Her love and appreciation for you and the children was so pure. I’m sure you had her blessing to open a bottle of wine with friends, to reminisce and laugh together.. I imagine you are all shattered after the months and years of her illness and treatment. I hope you can give yourselves time to sit with all the complex feelings and gradually recover.

    I am starting work on a book about attachment that I mentioned to Babette, and I plan to dedicate it to several very special people I’ve been privileged to meet while teaching who are no longer with us – Babette’s name is up there.

    My thoughts are with you,

    Linda

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