Valerie Bertinelli can vividly recall the heartbreaking words she told her ex Eddie Van Halen as he was dying of cancer in late 2020.
“Maybe next time,” she told her first husband through tears, as quoted by People magazine on Wednesday. “Maybe next time, we’ll get it right.”
The actress and the Van Halen rocker were married from 1981 until 2007. They share a son named Wolfgang. The iconic guitarist passed away on Oct. 6, 2020, at age 65.
Bertinelli, 61, is now sharing her story in a new memoir titled “Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I am Today,” which was excerpted in this week’s issue of People magazine.
“I loved Ed more than I know how to explain,” the Food Network host shared. “I loved his soul.”
While the couple’s love for each other was undeniable, their marriage proved to be tumultuous at times, the outlet shared.
“I hated the drugs and the alcohol, but I never hated him,” Bertinelli admitted. “I saw his pain.”
While the pair remarried to other spouses in the later years, their bond endured. And it was their loving relationship that Van Halen relied on as he faced his biggest battle.
Van Halen made sure to remind Bertinelli how much she meant to him before his passing.
According to the outlet, it was Thanksgiving Day 2019 when Van Halen stopped by Bertinelli’s home and asked to speak with her privately. After they found a quiet spot in a friend’s car, he gave her a small bag, which had a pendant-size gold bar. He purchased it while getting cancer treatments in Germany.
“I hope you don’t think it’s weird, you know, that I bought my ex-wife this gift and didn’t get my wife anything,” he told her with tears in his eyes. “I just love you.”
Bertinelli wrote that it was Van Halen’s way to show her how sorry he was for everything.
“He wants me to know he messed up [during our marriage],” she wrote. “I contributed to our troubles too and I am also sorry.”
Bertinelli described how in the final weeks of Van Halen’s life, she and their son spent every day with him at the hospital.
“’I love you’ are the last words Ed says to Wolfie and me,” she wrote. “And they are the last words we say to him before he stops breathing.”
Bertinelli said she still regrets the times when she sometimes held back from getting too close to Van Halen when he was sick. She shared that they were both married and those relationships were struggling.
Bertinelli also clarified that her relationship with Van Halen was not a contributing factor in her decision to file for separation from her husband, Tom Vitale, in late November. They had been married since 2011. The “Hot in Cleveland” alum explained that she and her second husband had simply grown apart and that she wishes him the best.
“There is no chance we are going to get back together,” she wrote about Van Halen. “But I do know if one of us were to open up, the other one would too, and I don’t want to get into that.”
“I can’t explain the feelings Ed and I had for each other,” she continued. “Who really knows had he not died. I doubt it. I loved him more than I know how to explain and there’s nothing sexual about it. It was more than that. And Ed and I understood that. There is no greater love than what we had between the two of us and with that, we made this beautiful son.”
Van Halen, sober since 2008, lost one-third of his tongue to cancer that eventually drifted into his esophagus. In 1999, he had a hip replacement. He married stuntwoman-turned-publicist Janie Liszewski in 2009. She and Van Halen’s brother, Alex Van Halen, were among those who were by the star’s side at the hospital.
Shortly after Van Halen’s death, Bertinelli took to Instagram and honored her love.
“I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments,” Bertinelli wrote, showing an image of their baby son. “I will see you in our next life.”
Bertinelli’s book will be released on Jan. 18.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.