The last email Elizabeth Wurtzel sent me reads: "Are you in touch with Prince William? I'm thinking he is my next husband."

I'd only interviewed the late author once, in the summer of 2015, but when you've sat at someone's kitchen table discussing everything from daddy issues and drug addiction to love, marriage and breast cancer, it's hard to leave it there.

So this is the place I found myself after hearing the news about Wurtzel's death - spending a happy half hour or so scrolling through the whimsical, warm and witty messages she'd sent me in the past.

I say "happy" because although the 52-year-old died following a long battle with the breast cancer that had finally metastasised to her brain, those messages all reinforced the impression I'd been left with of a woman at the most serene and content point in her life, despite her terrible diagnosis.

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Scarcely any of the obituaries reflected that. The one-time enfant terrible of American literature' was a "self-consciously narcissistic" woman who both "opened up a dialogue about depression and drug addiction" with the publication of Prozac Nation in 1994 and "made a career out of" those afflictions.

All of which she would be the first to admit. We heard about how as a schoolgirl seeking refuge from the fallout of her parents' divorce, Wurtzel gouged her knees with razor blades, taking her first overdose at 11, and becoming so depressed, at 13, that she was unable to get out of bed.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the brilliance and success that saw her win the Rolling Stone College Journalism Award as a Harvard freshman, become The New Yorker pop music critic and be courted by Oprah, this self-destruction continued into adulthood.

Remembered by journalists who had interviewed the Manhattan-born writer in her vampish heyday, and watched this woman-child in belly-baring crop-tops playing up to her hot mess persona, Wurtzel would remain a hot mess in many people's minds beyond the grave. Only this wasn't the woman I met.

The woman I met on that suffocating New York June day five years ago was not the "delicate", "disconnected," "dazed" or "fragile" person she had been described as even after she sobered up in 1998, but relaxed, upbeat and looking to the future.

Asked whether she had any vices remaining, Wurtzel had been forced to scour her mind before replying: "Too much butter on my toast. That is probably my worst vice now."At first, I'd wondered whether the breast cancer she had been diagnosed with earlier that year was somehow responsible for a change that sobriety hadn't quite brought about.

After all, Wurtzel was gloriously pragmatic about both the cancer - "which, like many things that happen to women, is mostly a pain in the ass" - and the double mastectomy she'd undergone four months earlier. "I always thought that I liked my breasts," she mused, "but it turns out that given the opportunity to have bigger ones, I've taken it."

"And after everything I have been through," she'd added, "breast cancer is nothing. Not compared to giving up drugs - that was the hardest thing." No. The truth, Wurtzel told me, is that something about her had changed in 2012.

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That year, she'd been sued by Penguin for failing to deliver a manuscript she'd signed a $100,000 deal to write, and was forced to move out of her Greenwich Village flat by a terrifying stalker who turned up at her door and announced his intention to "slash up your face, and ruin your life"."So I moved to a new apartment," she explained, "a place where I have finally achieved some calm - and I made peace with myself."

Maybe life had to reach peak crazy for Wurtzel to lose any interest in craziness of any form. Maybe those events, along with her sobriety, allowed her to shake off the hot mess pose she'd struck and exhaustingly held for years. Certainly, they allowed her, at 47, to meet and marry her first and only husband, writer James Freed jnr, a month before our interview.

And I remember her girlish laughter at having to "check the 'married' box" on forms, and how optimistic this former emblem of disaffected youth sounded about the union."Of course marriage is optimistic, because it's the beginning of something," Wurtzel explained, adding that she was loving marriage so much that she only wished she'd done it sooner.

"Maybe getting married for the first time at 47 is my real mistake - maybe I should be on my third or fourth marriage."I didn't get the feeling Wurtzel was ever interested in raking over mistakes or churning up regrets.

She didn't wish she'd never suffered from depression: "I was very fuelled by depression. I don't know what I would have been like without it."

Or that she'd reconnected with the "hard to reach" father she hadn't seen since 2001 before he died. "If I'd wanted to speak to him, I would have," she told me with a shrug. "I tried many times, but it just wasn't possible. And it wasn't that I was angry at him - I had forgiven him - but he had a personality that was impossible to get through to."

When Wurtzel found out she was dying, I think there may have been one regret: children. "It's definitely a part of life that you don't want to miss out on," she told me in our interview. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and, of course, it will be complicated with all this - but it's possible," adding with aplomb: "And I believe I could be a good mother because it turns out that when I love somebody, there is nothing I wouldn't do."

When I emailed later to ask her whether she had considered freezing her eggs, Wurtzel's tone was straightforwardly regretful: "I never did that. I should have done it before chemotherapy, but I was too overwhelmed." Some time after, another email: "Someone I have known since grade school got in touch with me to offer me some embryos. Good heavens. I get the strangest emails."

After that, our emails became less frequent, the idea of us meeting up again in New York or anywhere became less likely.

But when we touched once more on the subject of children, Wurtzel sent me a line that I find poignant today: "I will have to hope that science has miraculous solutions for me," she wrote. "I believe it does."