Bethenny Frankel is celebrating the bright life of late boyfriend Dennis Shields on what would have been his 53rd birthday.
“Happy Birthday Dennis…. Thinking of you today and every day,” Frankel, 49, began the post, which included rare photos of the couple spending time together.
“It’s been tough recently because the world lost another legend and so many innocent lives,” she wrote, noting the recent helicopter crash that claimed the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
“You are gone but never will be forgotten. You are missed. You are constantly quoted. You are one of a kind. You are eating multiple Nestle crunch bars, Sprites, and JG Mellon double cheese cheeseburgers in heaven, and now you have an amazing basketball player to watch and bet on up there,” Frankel said.
The Skinnygirl mogul continued, “You would be proud of my decisions and the evolution of my career and my life. You would be so excited about all of the announcements coming soon. You were my biggest cheerleader and were positive about a future for me that I never imagined possible.”
“Bryn is still ‘sweet as sugar’ as you always refer to her and she misses your blindfolded food tasting contests and leaving trails of chocolate chips. You were right about @biggysmallz being the greatest dogs. Bryn tells everyone: ‘Dennis has had more than 30 dogs and says he has never met sweeter dogs,’ ” Frankel said.
Frankel, who is now dating real estate developer and film producer Paul Bernon, went on to say that Shields would approve of her current relationship.
“We are in good hands with Paul, who you would like and respect and vice versa. He looks out for us and is very caring. You always said I would find someone who would take care of me,” she continued.
The former Bravo star concluded, “We miss you. Happy Birthday! I know they have peanut butter chocolate cake and Hemingway in heaven. Everyone misses you and you are still the center of attention-just how you secretly like it. Xoxo P.S. I hope @cookiedabooboo is giving you great snuggles at the 🌈 bridge. ‘The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.’ ‘Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.’ -Ernest Hemingway.”
On Aug. 10, 2018, Shields was found dead of a suspected overdose in his Trump Tower apartment.
“We are all heartbroken. Dennis was, and will always be, the love of my life,” his estranged wife Jill Shields said in a statement to PEOPLE. “His spirit lives on in our children. Please respect our family’s privacy at this time.”
Frankel and Shields began dating in 2016 — three years after the reality star filed for divorce from Hoppy. Much of their on-off relationship was documented on The Real Housewives of New York.
Despite multiple breakups, Frankel and Shields remained close. In fact, in the spring before Shields’ death, he popped the question on April 25 while the couple was at dinner together.
Though he gave her a mega-carat rock, which she proudly wore, Frankel said the circumstances surrounding their impending nuptials were a little tricky. In fact, she said she never really gave Shields a clear yes.
“It’s funny because he said to me, ‘Did you say yes?’ And I said, ‘Well, I love you and I can’t believe you did this but we have to talk about some conditions and some terms and how things are going to change’ — issues I’ve had with partnership and consistency,” Frankel recalled on RHONY.
“It was all very complicated and it wasn’t what a natural engagement should be,” Frankel said. “So our engagement was on ice.”
Last August, Frankel posted a loving tribute on the one-year anniversary of his death.
“One year ago today, I woke up to a beautiful sunny day with @biggysmallz by the pool, and my world crumbled and turned upside down in an instant. A man Dennis, who I loved and respected, who was in my life for 30 years unexpectedly passed away,” she wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of Shields sitting on a couch with the reality star’s two Lhasa Apso dogs.
“Dennis insisted we adopt biggy AND smallz for my daughter Peanut,” she wrote, referencing a nickname for Bryn. “He simply couldn’t imagine separating them.”
Frankel said Shields was also the one to come up with their names.
“We racked our brains staying up late coming up with the perfect name for two dogs from the same litter with very different body types. Thing 1 & Thing 2 was an option but Peanut found it degrading. Lenny & Squiggy was a good one but I knew it would only appeal to the over 40 set. Then at 5am, Dennis was waiting for me to wake up and in his stronger than Tequila New Yawk accent said ‘BIGGY AND SMALLZ’ and two stars were born,” she wrote.
Frankel wrote that “he loved these dogs and the feelings were mutual.”
“They were particularly fond of his salty bald head,” she continued, adding, “it seemed like he and they spoke the same language and they were the only ones who understood him. He was a loving, sweet, gentle, brilliant, complicated, hilarious, creative and supportive man. He is missed terribly by so many but lives on in his friends and family and furry loved ones.”
Frankel added, “I am a different person and in a different emotional place than I was a year ago, and the wounds have begun to heal but the scar will remain on my heart forever. RIP, August 10. #Unforgettable.”