Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli has opened up about the legendary guitarist's death.
In her new book, "Enough Already: Learning To Love The Way I Am Today", which will be released on January 18, she reveals that she and their son, Wolfgang, were both present at the time of Eddie's passing after a years-long battle with cancer in October 2020. They were joined by other family members, including Eddie's second wife, Janie Liszewski, and his brother, Alex Van Halen.
People magazine has published an excerpt from the book in which Valerie recalled saying to Eddie just days before his death as they cried together: "Maybe next time, right? Maybe next time we'll get it right."
Eddie's death on October 6, 2020 came in "slow motion," according to Valerie, who said she got a call from Wolfgang that morning telling her "that Ed's breathing has changed and that I have to get to the hospital ASAP."
"'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," she wrote.
She said after 20 minutes of silence, they started sharing stories about the iconic musician and began laughing, not crying.
"Suddenly, all of us are cracking up," she wrote. "We laugh — and it is so much better than crying."
Bertinelli split with Van Halen in 2002 after 21 years of marriage. They officially divorced in 2007. Eddie then went on to marry Liszewski in 2009, while Valerie also remarried, tying the knot with Tom Vitale in 2011. Valerie told People magazine that both marriages were struggling before Eddie's death. She eventually filed for separation from Vitale in November 2021.
On the day of the VAN HALEN guitarist's passing, Valerie shared a photo of her, Eddie and Wolfgang, taken while Wolfgang was still a toddler, and she included the following message: "40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you. You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I'm so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love."
Eddie died at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Following his death, fans left flowers at his childhood home on Las Lunas Street in Pasadena, California. Additional flowers, candles and fan mementos were placed on Allen Avenue where Eddie and his brother, VAN HALEN drummer Alex, scratched their band's name into the wet cement of a sidewalk when they were teenagers.
"One of the many reasons that Ed and I split up is to give Wolfie a better vision of what two people who are supposedly in love treat each other like," Valerie told Oprah.com. "Ed and I weren't treating each other like two people that loved each other, and that's what Wolfie was seeing. So I'm hoping that when he does get married and start a life for himself, that he takes his time and marries a friend and not just someone that he can't keep his hands off."
Valerie went on to say that leaving Eddie wasn't an easy choice. "We were all very raw from 9/11, and you heard all these stories of people coming together," she said. "They hated each other and they were back together and divorces weren't happening anymore. And I'm, like, 'Am I the only one in the world that wants out now because of 9/11? I'm not going to live my life if it's that tenuous. That's not how I want to live my life anymore.'"
After Eddie was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, he began flying to Germany for treatments. Eventually, the cancer spread to Eddie's spine and brain. Just a few months later, Eddie died at age 65.
The 30-year-old Wolfgang speculated to The Washington Post that his father could have flown to Germany for more radiation had the coronavirus crisis not happened, possibly prolonging his life.
In November 2020, Wolfgang said that doctors told Eddie he had "six weeks" after he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. "And then he went to Germany," Wolfgang told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show. "Whatever the fuck they do over there, it's amazing, because I got three more years with him."
In December 2020, Eddie's immediate cause of death was revealed to be a cerebrovascular event, such as a stroke. Pneumonia, the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome and lung cancer were also cited as underlying causes in his death certificate, which was obtained by TMZ. The certificate also listed a number of other "significant conditions" that contributed to Eddie's death, including squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) of the head and neck, and atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes irregular heartbeat and elevates stroke risk.
In the Howard Stern interview, Wolf said the cause of his dad's death had been "misattributed" by some media outlets as throat cancer. Eddie had previously battled tongue cancer in the early 2000s, which Eddie blamed on holding a metal pick in his mouth.
Wolf said it was "certainly feasible" that Eddie got tongue cancer from the pick but he shot down the suggestion that he died from throat cancer.
"People love to give him shit about that," Wolfgang said, before adding, "He would hold that pick in the same spot all the time, and that's the exact area that he got the squamous cell carcinoma in his tongue that he had to get cut out.
"When it's reported, it's always attributed to the throat cancer and then everybody instead of going 'Oh shit. His cancer's back,' people are just going 'What an idiot. He thinks he got throat cancer from a pick?' And it just totally derails the whole thing," he said.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.