It was October 2020, and Eddie Van Halen had just died. His family decided to celebrate his life with pizza.

"I didn't want to believe it was happening," his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli tells People magazine. "Even while it was happening, I wasn't believing it was happening."

Van Halen had been battling throat cancer when he passed at age 65, surrounded by loved ones in the hospital including his brother Alex Van Halen, Bertinelli, their son Wolfgang Van Halen and others. They found comfort in Eddie Van Halen's favorite food.

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"I forget who suggested it, but we were like, 'Should we have pizza?'" Bertinelli continued. "Because he couldn't eat, and the last thing Ed really wanted was pizza. He loved pizza and burritos, so we had pizza in his hospital room. I hope people don't think that's morbid."

Van Halen and Bertinelli married in 1980 but filed for divorce in 2005, four years after they separated.

"He knew how much I loved him. I knew how much he loved me," she said. "The last words he said to me and to Wolfie were, 'I love you.' Ed was very giving with his heart. He wore it on his sleeve."

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In the years following their split, Wolfgang continued to bind them together. Bertinelli admits she wanted she wanted to reconcile but she'd already accepted that they wouldn't even if Van Halen had lived.

"I continued for years to rewrite the facts in my head and build them into some sort of fantasy," she said. "But now, I know we were never going to get back together. We were becoming kinder souls to one another. Our bond was the unconditional love we had for our son."

Wolfgang initially announced his father's death, admitting at the time that he couldn't imagine ever coming to terms with this loss. They were also bandmates in Van Halen, beginning in 2006.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," Wolfgang wrote back then. "He was the best father I could ever ask for. "Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop."

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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