A legacy that lives on

Kaite O'Reilly celebrates the memory of her husband, Phillip Zarilli, who chose to remember Hospiscare in his Will

Phillip Zarrilli, artistic director of the Llanarth Group and a well-travelled actor, author and teacher, died in our care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before his death, Phillip decided to amend his will to leave a gift for our charity. His wife, Kaite O’Reilly, celebrates his memory.

On 9 March 2020, when Phillip received the news from his oncologist that the cancer he had been living with for fourteen years had begun to ‘seriously party’ (his words), he said to me ‘this is our last adventure together.’

Phillip lived with cancer – creatively, fully and without complaint – for fourteen years. He always spoke of how grateful he was to have been able to teach, create, perform, direct and, most importantly, complete his books, constantly giving thanks to the brilliant skills and ideology of universal free healthcare offered by the UK’s NHS.

We are both hugely grateful to the staff at Hospiscare, who gave Phillip such tender and expert palliative care, and in the most challenging of conditions, in the middle of a pandemic. Against all the odds, they allowed me to be with Phillip, showing such compassion. One of his last acts of kindness was to change his Will so that he could leave a donation to Hospiscare, to say thank you. We both felt it was important to support such an important charity during this financial crisis.

Phillip died on 28 April 2020 at 13.52 UK time. It was the ‘good death’ he wanted, I think – calm, pain-free, unsentimental – me holding his hand.

I keep thinking of the Tagore line: ‘Let it not be a death, but completeness.’

I have been so fortunate, having this great mind, this gentle and generous man as my companion in so many ways – loving, working, living, travelling, thinking, writing and making performance alongside him for twenty one years. I believe Phillip inhabited every second of his life until he departed, soaring, on a breath.

A woman leaning over a man at a desk

One in five of our patients is cared for thanks to gifts in Wills. We are grateful for each and every donation. If you would like to find out more about leaving your own legacy, you can get in touch with our Legacy Gift team by calling 01392 688020 or emailing legacyinfo@hospiscare.co.uk. You can also find out more about gifts in Wills on our website by clicking here.