The death of Eddie Van Halen in October of 2020 caught most people off guard. He had publicly struggled with cancer for a number of years, but by all accounts, he looked relatively healthy in the years leading up to his passing. The loss represented more than just the loss of an icon: it meant that one of rock’s greatest bands, Van Halen, would never again record or perform.
Even though they had divorced a number of years before his death, Van Halen’s ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, continued to have a close relationship with Eddie. It was with Bertinelli and their son, Wolfgang, that Van Halen expressed his succinct and powerful final words.
“‘I love you’ are the last words Ed says to Wolfie and me,” Bertinelli wrote in her memoir Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today, “And they are the last words we say to him before he stops breathing.”
Bertinelli added: “I can’t explain the feelings Ed and I had for each other. 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.”
According to Bertinelli, the bond between her and Van Halen didn’t diminish when they divorced in 2007, and it largely had to do with their shared love of Wolfgang. “There is no greater love than what we had between the two of us and with that, we made this beautiful son.”
In the memoir, Bertinelli explains that it was ultimately Van Halen’s drug addiction and inability to remain clean that caused them to break apart. Even through the strain, Bertinelli never lost her love for Van Halen. “I hated the drugs and the alcohol but I never hated him. I saw his pain.”