Though his death on Oct. 6, 2020, was a shock to rock fans across the planet, Eddie Van Halen made sure that he said a proper goodbye to those closest to his heart. In an excerpt from her new memoir, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today, the late Van Halen guitarist’s ex-wife, Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli, describes her final visit with EVH.
The excerpt in this week’s People recalls Bertinelli weepily telling her first husband, “Maybe next time. Maybe next time, we’ll get it right” as Van Halen, 65, lay dying from cancer. “I loved Ed more than I know how to explain,” Bertinelli, 61, told the mag. “I loved his soul.”
The two were married in 1981, welcomed their son, Wolfgang, in 1991, and divorced in 2007. Through the ups and downs, Bertinelli said she always considered Van Halen her “soulmate.” “We were portrayed as a mismatch,” she writes in the book of the couple’s early years, according to the magazine’s excerpt. “The bad boy rock star and America’s sweetheart but privately, Ed wasn’t the person people thought he was and neither was I.”
And though both remarried after their split, Bertinelli writes that as Eddie’s cancer spread and his situation deteriorated, they got closer again. She describes a Thanksgiving 2019 visit from Van Halen to her home where he asked if they could chat in private. It was then that Van Halen handed his ex a small bag with a pendant-sized gold bar he’d bought 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 tearily. “I just love you.” Bertinelli writes that Van Halen wanted her to know that he’d “messed up” during their marriage, admitting that she was sorry for contributing to their troubles as well.
In Van Halen’s final weeks, Bertinelli and Wolfgang were with him in the hospital every day, along with other loved ones and Eddie’s second wife, Janie Liszewski, and bandmate and brother, drummer Alex Van Halen. In his last moments, Bertinelli writes, “‘I love you’ are the last words Ed says to Wolfie and me … and they are the last words we say to him before he stops breathing.”
In the end, she says she can’t really explain the feelings the couple 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,” Bertinelli said. “There is no greater love than what we had between the two of us and with that, we made this beautiful son.”