Valerie Bertinelli believes she'll 'spend a lifetime' with Eddie Van Halen again someday

For some couples, a breakup means the end. Hard stop. It's over. Not so for actress and cooking show host Valerie Bertinelli and late rocker Eddie Van Halen. They married in 1981, and by the time they finalized their divorce in 2007, they had a son, Wolfgang, who helped make sure they stayed in each other's lives.

"Some of the last words I said to him [are], you know, 'Maybe next time. Maybe we'll get it right next time,'" Bertinelli tells Yahoo Entertainment for our celebrity book series, Under the Covers. "And I really do believe that this is not the first time nor will it be the last time that I spend a lifetime with him."

Eddie Van Halen makes an appearance on Valerie Bertinelli's show,
Eddie Van Halen makes an appearance on Valerie Bertinelli's show, Cafe Americain, in 1993. (Photo: NBC/Everett Collection)

Van Halen died of cancer on Oct. 6, 2020 at 65, with his wife, Janie, as well as Wolf and Bertinelli by his side.

As Bertinelli writes in her new memoir, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today, which came out Jan. 18, afterward he visited her. "I was drifting in that half-asleep, half-awake place when I sensed a presence in the room. I opened my eyes and there, through the darkness, was Ed," she wrote. "Looking at me. With that Cheshire cat grin of his. Like you asked for it. Here I am. 'What's going on?' I asked. 'Are you really here?'" She described hearing her ex-husband playing music that had a special meaning to them and, though she knew it sounded a little bizarre, feeling extremely calm and warm, with a sense that everything was going to be OK.

The One Day at a Time actress writes lovingly not only of Van Halen, but also, briefly, of her former Hot in Cleveland co-star Betty White. White died Dec. 31, after the book was published, but Bertinelli had referenced the iconic star as "truly a light."

In the interview, Bertinelli muses that the late TV legend she met roughly a decade ago might have a hand in the approach to life that she writes about in her book. Enough Already is all about getting off the cycle that she's been on her whole life, feeling that she's not good enough and instead accepting herself as she is and seeking pure joy.

Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli co-star in a 2014 episode of
Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli co-star in a 2014 episode of Hot in Cleveland. (Photo: TV Land/courtesy Everett Collection)

"Maybe that's where the little start of that path of being grateful and living in gratitude and not in misery started, because I watched this woman, who had been through so many things in her life," Bertinelli says. "She exuded gratitude and kindness, and it wasn't a put on thing. And by watching that, it starts to sink in after a while. Like, 'Wow. I could try to live that way too. I could do my best, at least.'"

Much of what kept Bertinelli, now 61, from joy in her younger years was the feeling that she always needed to lose 10 pounds. She writes about an elementary school teacher having told her, "You better watch that," and pointing to her stomach. By the time she was a teenager on One Day at a Time, it was something she thought about enough to tell a reporter that she had a "very serious weight problem" and looked "like a tub of lard" next to her co-star, Mackenzie Phillips.

"For a long time, I treated food as the enemy. I misused it, because I was suppressing emotions with it," Bertinelli says now. "I'll always wish that I was thinner. [It's] just the way I grew up. It's a very hard thing to dig out of me and get out of my soul. But, having said that, I also believe that I am more than what that scale tells me. I am more than what size jean[s] I wear."

At this point in her life, she has a different measure of success.

"Again, it comes back to: Am I being kind?" Bertinelli says. "Am I treating people with respect? Am I doing that same to me?"

— Produced by Olivia Schneider and edited by Luis Saenz