Katie Couric recalls daughters reading about their late father in her new book: ‘They called me in tears'

·3 min read

One of Katie Couric's biggest regrets is that her two daughters didn't really get a chance to know their father because they were so young when he died at 42 in 1998 of colorectal cancer.

The former TODAY co-anchor made it a goal of her new memoir, "Going There," to give daughters Ellie, 30, and Carrie, 25, a full portrait of their late father, Jay Monahan.

In interviews about her new book on TODAY Tuesday, Couric, 64, shared the emotional response she received from her girls after they first read it. The book is dedicated to them.

“I have a lot of regrets,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “Jay and I never really talked about the fact that he could die. I was terrified to give up hope. It was devastating, and I really wrote this book for my girls.

"I dedicate it to Ellie and Carrie because I really wanted them to get to know the father they never got to know, and they both called me in tears, and I think they’re grateful for the book."

Ellie was 6 and Carrie was 2 when their father died after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"It was really hard," Couric said. "I was very private. Obviously I’ve lived this out in a very public way but I was really private because I felt like it was not my story to tell back then.

"This was happening to Jay, not me, as my dad reminded me in the hospital. It was heartbreaking, and I hope that those chapters will help people deal with terminal illness and loss."

Couric, who has been married to second husband John Molner since 2014, also wanted her daughters to know about the vibrant moments with Jay that made up their love story.

"Basically I just thought this was a good time to look back at all the things in my career, to kind of make Jay come alive for Ellie and Carrie and talk about our courtship and why we fell in love," Couric said on the 3rd hour of TODAY.

Couric also writes candidly about mistakes she feels she made while Monahan was dying.

"For people who are suffering from loss and how to deal with a spouse or loved one with a terminal illness, I still wish I knew how to handle that," she told Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager.

"I think there’s a line in the book where I said I did everything I could to help Jay live, I wish I had done a better job helping him die."

Couric also presented a full picture of Monahan, including unflattering aspects like his fascination with Confederacy re-enactments from the Civil War.

"I write a lot about some of his hobbies that my daughters have struggled with," Couric said. "He was really fascinated by the Civil War, and Ellie and Carrie have been trying to square that and understand it."

Since Monahan's death, Couric has been a tireless advocate in the fight against colon cancer, including appearances on TODAY to promote awareness and screens for colorectal cancers.

"I hope Jay would be proud of me," she said. "I know he would be proud of all the work I’ve done with colon cancer because I’ve been able to help people take active measures to save their lives, and it doesn’t get much better than that."

Couric's memoir, which hits stores on Oct. 26, also covers her 42-year broadcast journalism career, including blunt assessments of her former TODAY co-anchor Matt Lauer and her regrets over an edited interview with late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"I think I wanted to write a book that showed me as a person in full with imperfections and shortcomings and great success and great moments of triumph," she said. "I wanted (my daughters) to see you don’t have to be perfect and things can happen and you can be resilient and move on."

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