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It was the hardest, most heartbreaking piece of composition Sir Paul McCartney has ever attempted. The man whose make-believe phrases had made him one of the greatest songwriters of the age had to find the words to capture the awful reality of his beloved Linda's death.  
He sat alone at an oak table in the kitchen of their Sussex farmhouse and slowly and movingly expressed the "total heartbreak" felt by him and the four McCartney children.  

Repeatedly, he reached for the telephone to talk to those who had known Linda well.  

"I have gone through so many phrases in the past few days," he said to one close friend. "But now the time is right to get it all down. I need to try and relieve this great weight I feel."  

When he had finished two hours later, 55-year-old Paul summoned his publicist Geoff Baker to his home and read aloud the 564-word tribute.  

Last night Geoff said: "His words were handwritten on a piece of paper. When he read it out to me, I cried and there were tears in his eyes as well. It was very moving. Paul may be a very big star but he is a very human person as well.  

"The words speak for themselves. Not many people would say what he said there. He is trying to be open and honest. He's fine. He's very together and he's being very brave. You can't write something like that and not be together.  

"He is missing her very much, as his words show. The grief is going to come in waves. He has cried since Linda's death, but that is good - a lot of people have."  

Geoff told of the overwhelming emotion as Paul spilled out the words he had struggled so hard to get right.  

He added: "It was one of the bravest things I have ever seen or heard. It made me cry. Paul was also very emotional. There were a lot of wet eyes there. Every single word came from his own heart and his own hand. This came from the pen of the man who has written some of the most memorable songs in history."  

Paul ended his tribute by revealing his final words to Linda on her deathbed last Friday - picturing her on a horseback ride through woods bedecked with bluebells. Then he took the piece of paper, gathered several photographs which had been spread across the kitchen table, and handed the bundle to his aide.  

For years, the farmouse at Peasmarsh had been the scene of so many happy times for the McCartneys. But as Paul began to gather his thoughts about the woman who had been at his side for almost 30 years, this was the saddest moment of his life.  

He had hardly slept since Linda's death in California from cancer. His 21-year-old son James had slept in the same bed as his distraught father on Paul's first night alone.  

But even the comfort of a loved one was not enough. As he sat at the table to compose his tribute, wrapped warm against the early morning chill, his children slept upstairs.  

As Paul stared at the blank sheet of paper in front of him, slowly his confused thoughts began to take shape.  

"Linda was, and still is, the love of my life," he wrote. McCartney, a songwriter often criticised for saccharine lyrics, was this time pouring out heartfelt emotion - not sentiment.  

As the words began to flow, so did his tears. As the two hours elapsed, he agonised over every word - determined to express properly his love and grief.  

Forget the No.1 hits and the classic songs which have thrilled three generations. This was a composition like no other. A million ways of conveying his emotions had been churning around in his mind. He looked out of the window to gaze at the copse which the couple had planted when they first moved in 25 years ago.  

Around him were so many memories from the past. Linda's well-thumbed cookbooks still stacked up in a corner, family photographs tacked higgledy-piggledly on a cork noticeboard, and bowls of dried flowers on every surface. This was the centre of his wife's universe, the special place where the family would gather to catch up on all the news.  

All looked forward to those carefree hours when the world-famous McCartneys were just another happy family.  

This was where Linda meant to spend her final days. Paul's inner circle of friends and relatives have been doing all they can to console him.  

But there have been moments when nobody could reach him. Paul and Linda were always a team, so close they were almost one person. Now robbed of the only true love of his life, he was in despair. Those closest to him talk publicly of his bravery. But privately, they fear for him.  

There have been times when he has behaved as if Linda were still alive. He has retraced their favourite walks around the woodland estate that meant so much to them, the hoof marks made by Linda's favourite horse Blanket taking on a sad significance.  

There have been times when he has nearly called out her name. But there are moments when he smiles. Linda's acerbic wit left him in tears of laughter, when she felt he had become too "rock-starry".  

His 564 words yesterday were part of the healing process. A chance to exorcise some of the pain. Later, publicist Baker said of Paul and his family: "The children are being strong and fine. As Paul says, they are all leaning on each other. They have got big hearts and brave hearts - and so has Paul."  

Ray Connolly: The Linda I knew  

Evening Standard's Editor's Comment: 
LINDA McCARTNEY In the tempestuous world of rock music, talent and marriages are cheap, brittle and impermanent. Yet Paul McCartney's genius is not seriously denied, more than 35 years after he first burst onto the music scene. More than that, his marriage to his adored wife Linda - his one and only trip to the altar - lasted for 30 years. Her passions for very personal brands of environmentalism, animal welfare and vegetarianism sometimes seemed quirky, but were obviously sincere and deeply-felt. Her courage in confronting her illness demanded widespread admiration. In the last years of her tragically short life, she had the joy of watching her daughter, Stella, triumph in her own right, as a fashion designer. Paul McCartney asked last night for time to grieve. He will have the sympathy and support of millions of his admirers as he does so. 

A final album of Linda McCartney's songs and an exhibition of her previously unseen photographs of the last days of The Beatles are to be released as a memorial by her grieving husband. 

Sir Paul McCartney is planning to release a collection of songs written by his wife and jointly performed by them as a tribute. The couple had been working on a number of lyrics until a few days before her death on Friday. Sir Paul's publicist, Geoff Baker, said today: "Paul will be working on songs that Linda had written. Some form of CD will probably be released as a tribute to Linda's life and talents. That is something she wanted to happen. Paul and Linda had finished two songs and several more were half-finished."  

Mr Baker also revealed that Lady McCartney had only recently rediscovered 40 rolls of film from a series of photographic sessions with the Beatles shortly before they split. "It has never been seen before. Paul is thinking along the lines of an exhibition or possibly a book."  

When asked where proceeds from either of these projects would go, Mr Baker replied: "He hasn't even thought about that yet. He doesn't want money - he wants his wife back." Sir Paul today appealed for time to grieve as he arrived back in Britain for the first time since Linda's death. He and the couple's children returned to their home near Rye, Sussex, last night after flying from a private cremation ceremony near their holiday home in Santa Barbara where Lady McCartney lost her battle against cancer.  

The couple rarely spent more than one night apart in 29 years of marriage and today Mr Baker said: "Paul is devastated and just needs some time to come to terms with his tremendous loss."   

Linda had fought against her cancer to the last, it emerged today. Shortly before she died she was treated in New York with an experimental new treatment known as "aggressive high-dose chemotherapy."  

The couple had three children, Mary, Stella and James. Linda also had a daughter, Heather, from her first marriage.  

A statement from the family said Linda, 56, "was diagnosed in late 1995 with breast cancer, she had been having treatment which appeared to have worked well. But unfortunately in March it was found that it had gone to her liver. The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn't suffer."   
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 20 April 1998  

LONDON (April 19) - Linda McCartney, the American photographer wife of former  
Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has died from cancer, the star's publicist said Sunday. She was 56.  

Geoff Baker said McCartney died on Friday at Santa Barbara, Calif. Her husband  
and children were with her.  

''The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn't suffer,'' a statement from Paul McCartney's office said. ''Two days previous to her death, Linda and Paul had been horse-riding, which was one of her main passions.''  

The couple announced in December 1995 that McCartney, a keen vegetarian who  
marketed her own range of meat-free dishes, was being treated for breast cancer.  

Sunday's statement said that the treatment appeared to be working well, but in  
March, the cancer was found to have spread to her liver.  

It said the star will issue a statement later in the week and asked that people wanting to send flowers should give a donation to charities involved in cancer research, animal welfare, ''or - best of all - the tribute that Linda herself would like best: Go veggie.''  

Linda Eastman was already acclaimed as the author of moody, gritty photographs  
when she met Paul McCartney in 1969.  

Their marriage was one of the longest in show business and produced three children, Mary, Stella and James. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.It was unclear whether her body would be returned to England for burial.  

News & Media Sources on Linda's Death
Click to see ITN newsclip
MSNBC - Official Probe Death of Linda
London Times:  
Electronic Telegraph - April 22/98  
22 April 1998: McCartney tells of his heartbreak over Linda  
People Magazine  
Linda McCartney's ashes scattered at home  
Linda McCartney's forgotten film exposes Beatles break-up  
Food empire may become a dynasty  

This is London:  
Linda hoped to see daughter wed  
 A veggie apology would honour Linda ITN video clip (real player)   

ABC News - Rueters   

ABC News   

CNN News    


CNN Message Board     

London Telegraph    

USA Today    

Chicago Tribune    

NY Times  

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