DAMIAN Lewis has penned a heart-breaking tribute to his wife Helen McCrory’s “love of life” after the actress died of cancer aged just 52.
The Peaky Blinders star tragically died on Friday after a “heroic” battle against the disease.
And her husband and fellow actor Damian Lewis has shared a devastating tribute to his wife – saying he had been constantly astounded by her “ability to be in the present and enjoy the moment”.
Writing in the Sunday Times, the 50-year-old dad said: “Already I miss her. She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine.
“In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to ‘normalise’ her death.
“She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.”
The Polly Gray actress, who died on Friday, told few people about her diagnosis and continued with her charity work until a few weeks before her death.
The star had shot to fame thanks to her role in Peaky Blinds while she was awarded the OBE in 2017, and also starred in the Harry Potter franchise and as Cherie Blair in two films.
And in the tear-jerking tribute, Damian wrote: “I’ve never known anyone able to enjoy life as much. Her ability to be in the present and enjoy the moment was inspirational. Nor was she interested in navel-gazing.
“No real interest in self- reflection; she believed in looking out, not in. Which is why she was able to turn her light so brightly on others.”
He also spoke of his devastation that she had tragically passed away – leaving their “beautiful” children Manon and Gully, “too early”.
The actor added: “They have in them the fearlessness, wit, curiosity, talent and beauty of their mother.
“She has exhorted us to be courageous and not afraid. As she said repeatedly to the children, ‘Don’t be sad, because even though I’m about to snuff it, I’ve lived the life I wanted to’.”
And he said she had been “utterly heroic” in her secret battle.
The dad wrote: “Funny, of course — generous, brave, uncomplaining, constantly reminding us all of how lucky we’ve been, how blessed we are.
“Her generosity has extended to encouraging us three to live. Live fully, take opportunities, have adventures.”
And he joked: “Only a couple of weeks ago she said to us from her bed, ‘I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn’t possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get though the funeral without snogging someone’.”
On Friday, Damian shared the devastating news of Helen’s death.
In a post on social media: “I’m heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.”
And theatre director pal Carrie Cracknell said Helen, 52, refused to let the illness overshadow her family and professional life.
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She told BBC Radio Four’s Today: “Helen wanted to be very private about her illness and I understand why. When you live in the public spotlight you have to find space to protect the things that are just for you.
“Very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and had to cancel that because she was having treatment. We were sworn to secrecy.
“Her need to be fully alive and be committed and to take things incredibly seriously, such as her family and charity work, defined her last few years for her as much as ever.”