Brooke: This Is Not Reality

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Four years ago, Brooke had the best day of her life — then two months later, she had the worst. The whiplash from the bliss of her wedding day to the reality of mourning rocked Brooke to her core. She sits down with Stephanie to recount the beauty that she experienced before the loss that she suffered, and how she’s tried to let the two exist side by side in the years that have followed.

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To follow along with a transcript, go to shortly after the air date.



Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Brooke, Oscar

Brooke  00:03

I go in to check on him, and he’s laying on the floor. And I’m like, okay, are you okay? Like he was still, like talking. There’s a cat was really kind of hard workout. I was like, oh, looks like ha, you know, he’s like, I can’t move my I can’t move my arm and I was like, okay, well that’s weird. So I was like, cut up like, I thought he was joking. And I so then I sat him up. And that’s when I saw like the whole left side was gone.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  00:33

Brooke never imagined in a million years, she would see her husband like this. The Lively, fun loving, physically fit soulmate, she married just two months before. It was just an ordinary day in the new life they were building together. Until it wasn’t. Nothing could have prepared her for what came next. And she knew it instantly.


Brooke  00:56

That’s an instant that is burned into my being because my brain went, you’re fucked everything’s done. Everything is changing now.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:14

This is Last Day, a show about the moments that change us on your host Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Today, the story of losing a love you never thought you’d find amidst the backdrop of a world that is completely unlike anything you’ve ever seen.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:41

If there’s one thing to learn from Brooke Wilson, it’s that you can never really know what’s coming. Her life has been a series of twists and turns for the better part of a decade. For one, she’s a dancer and an actor and Lord knows that that life is never easy nor straightforward, but for a while before adulthood, and all the uncertainty that brings Brooke knew exactly what was expected of her and exactly where she was headed. She grew up in a suburb of Houston, Texas that had a tight knit small town feel small enough to notice that just about everyone around her seemed to get married right out of college. So Brooke figured she should too, at 22 she married her college sweetheart, and they were together for 10 years, true love or not.


Brooke  02:30

I mean, we just were better as friends we laughed, we were great roommates, we had our spreadsheet with you know, expenses. We paid our bills on time, trash was taken out. But there was just no fire. We also disconnected just because we didn’t take care of our relationship we put work and friends and other things first instead of each other.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  02:55

Which is when you’re in your 20s like you that’s what you’re building, who am I in this world? What is my profession? What do I what am I going to do to earn a living?


Brooke  03:05



Stephanie Wittels Wachs  03:06

That makes sense.


Brooke  03:07

And partly because I’m also a bit of a workaholic so yeah, we were just dealing with we didn’t know anything. And you think you know, so much. And not that that doesn’t always work out, but for us it was just an opportunity I think to grow up with each other a little bit. And it also we I’m grateful that we ended the way we did and we’ve been able to communicate with each other still about man we fucked that up or we could have done that better. Yeah, we did pretty good at that like just assessing so that our next relationships would be able to learn from our 22 year old mistakes.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  03:45

One thing that 22 year old Brooke couldn’t have known was how in love she would be someday years after her divorce. And honestly, that road to True Love was long and unpaved post divorce living back in the Houston area. She tried dating again but says it was a nightmare work was also very busy she felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere romantically or finding the connection she knew had been missing in her first marriage.


Brooke  04:14

All these different things kept coming in my way and then the more that happened then I gotta get this work and I gotta do this and this and this the actors plight of you know you never say no so works did you know it was busy with shows and this and that and had a few like was just trying to really listen to this universe you know person thing God whatever we want to call it and was kind of being told to like you got to slow down and make some time for something to open up so that you can find this person that is supposed to be with you. So I did was in kind of some weird relationships-ish, whatever ended those took some time just to be by myself. And then of course here comes in, Oscar. We met on the hinge.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  05:02

Tell me all about it, tell me about his profile, tell me about.


Brooke  05:06

Ah, oh he was so cute. Oh, he’s just the most handsome. His friends called him the Mexican George Clooney. Which is so accurate. I mean, gorgeous, gorgeous. But his smile, he had the best smile now and he would be okay with me saying this. He did lie about his height on his profile. Like a lot of like.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  05:23

Like how much was the lie?


Brooke  05:25

He’s my height, and I’m five, seven, almost five. And he has said he was five, nine. My love was not.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  05:35

Five, nine or not, Oscar is radiant. He’s handsome. He has great hair. And his energy is big and warm. Brooke picked up on that and his profile, but found it to be exponentially more captivating in person. His personality, his kindness, his goodness, which is something that does leap out at you. Like were you pulled to that? Was there a magnetism?


Brooke  05:59

Yeah, yes. I mean, anyone who will who has met him will tell you the smile, and it was just this like, magnet just I mean, beams coming through his smile. And the other thing that impressed me was, he said, can I call you on this day at this time? And then motherfucker call me on that day, at that time. I mean, we just like, bam. And then he asked me on a first date. So I said, okay, yes and I was April 25 and I was at school, I had a show with my son who is also a dance teacher at a school here in Houston, and so I had a dance show with my students. I was like, I can meet you after that. And so I’m pulling out of the school parking lot, and I and I hit the curb and my tire pop. Now I’m a very good driver.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  06:46

You were excited. You were ready.


Brooke  06:48

I was so excited, and I wasn’t nervous, you know. And so I called him I was like, I’m not ghosting, this is a legit thing. I actually have a flat tire. And he was like, well, if you feel like okay with it, I could come pick you up and I for a second was like dateline, dateline, never get in the car. Don’t go to second location. So oh percent, but I was like, okay, okay, yeah, you can come pick me up so literal like modern day white, you know, knight or knight on the white horse kind of thing. Pulls up and opens my door and all those kinds of things and.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  07:24

He opened your door?


Brooke  07:26

He opened my door.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  07:28

As you can probably tell by my tone, I cannot believe the sweetness, the goodness, that is Oscar. He is a caring, perfect gentleman to Brooke from day one. Like Brooke said, she and Oscar click hard and fast when they meet and 2017 especially once that she sees Oscar isn’t just good to her. He’s good to everyone from his tweenage son to strangers he’s never met before.


Brooke  07:54

He was the guy in the room that was always checking everyone’s cocktails or even water for watching TV. He saw my water was getting halfway empty, he’d get up and film I mean, just always had a finger on the pulse of everyone in the room and just wanted everyone to be happy and comfortable. I mean, the time we have isn’t enough to tell, I mean, the mountains of just how gracious and giving in kind and just always aware of making people feel safe, you know.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  08:27

And as you’re falling in love with this man, and I mean, what was that like? What was, you know, you’d been married before you’d had other relationships, like what felt special as you two were falling in love and building your relationship and growing together?


Brooke  08:42

It was just so like, instantly easy and like, felt like we had known each other for so long. We had both been married before, so we both knew things that we didn’t want again. We also knew when things are right and real. I mean, it just it sounds kind of cliche, but it was just so easy, and so the gut, the gut was just screaming like.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  09:09

It’s theres.


Brooke  09:10

Yeah, yeah.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  09:12

Two weeks after their first date, Brooke and Oscar go on a weekend excursion to the Texas Hill Country, which is just lovely. Week three, Oscar takes a business trip to Mexico and Brooke joins them. When they get back from the trip. She all but moves in with them because at that point, the two are inseparable. She officially moves in to Oscars Apartment A few months later, broken Oscar are madly in love, and they’re in it for the long haul, three years after they meet. They tie the knot.


Brooke  09:44

Oscar had this beautiful idea of instead of place cards with names on it, he’s like, why don’t we write everyone that our thank you notes now. And so then that’s their thank you note will be where they know where they’re sitting for their table number and I was like, that’s a great idea. So oh, no granite, my head about two thirds of the guestlist so he loves fewer notes, right? Like, how’s your wrist hanging him, but he’s like, I’ve been done for weeks, like, great, so but anyway, and it was just and now especially people have said to me, I still have the note he wrote, like, there was never any question of how he felt not only for me, but for the people that he truly cared about.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  10:26

The wedding takes place in February of 2020, which, as we know, now is on the precipice of a pretty dark time. But in the moment, it’s bliss.


Brooke  10:38

And we just made it like, everything we wanted it to be, there was no like lighting of the unity, like all the things that you kind of do, traditionally, which is all great. But for us, we just were like, this is what we want to do. We want to stand in front of the people who got us here because our friends had been such a big part of of rallying behind us to get us to each other. And it ended up being like this, we were supposed to only have about 30 minutes for the ceremony, the ceremony ended up being an hour, unbeknownst to us, because both of our vows, just like the things we said to each other in our vows the way that he knew the way I just was, it was just perfect, and we got off and our wedding planner was like, okay, well, we kind of have to quickly did it, and we’re like, we still have 30 minutes. He’s like, no, that was an hour.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  11:29

Do you remember anything specifically as about the vowels in the moment, like hearing, you know, some something like I remember Mike started our vows with your strange, that was how he started. I mean, is the thing I remember the most from that wedding, like I remember so much but I’m like, I remember what his face did when he said that, and like, are there any things like he said, that just really spoke to you in that in the moment.


Brooke  11:55

God, so, so many things, but I can remember him talking about how he knew. So I’d met his son, two or three weeks into medicine really early, and his son at the time was 11, when Oscar and I met, and he was like, I remember when you met my son, and you left and I just sat on my couch and started crying because I knew I’d finally found what I had been looking for.


Oscar  12:25

I couldn’t hold it any longer. I cried, like I’ve never cried before. It was pure joy coming out in this tears. I finally knew her name. And I finally knew what she looked like. And I knew that she loved dogs more than I do. And she was better than I could have ever imagined. Today is about celebrating the fact that we found each other that we’ve been rare and extraordinary.


Brooke  12:54

And so we both had just so badly wanted to find this person. And he was like, I was just so grateful I couldn’t believe it. But I just sat down and just everything kind of, you know, fell away because I knew I’d finally found the person that I was supposed to, to complete the family and, and his sons actually his son’s vows were because he had written them on a on a piece of paper in his little jacket. And it was his turn, he’s like, I don’t need it at this point he was 14, I guess? And, just like spoke from his heart, and he was like, and I finally have the family I’ve always wanted and.



You know, both of my parents got divorced. And then I’ve never really had a family on either side. But now I do, and I love it. And that’s what I wanted to thank all of you all of you for coming here. I’ve been to a couple weddings here and there. But this one where my parents are being married, it’s a big thing, and I love it. And I love both of you.


Brooke  13:56

And one thing I said in my vows, it’s the first time in my life I feel like I can just exhale. Because I’ve been independent very fiercely, sometimes to a fault, but out of necessity for most of my life, and so it was the first time I felt like I could okay, someone’s got okay, I can just let my shoulders relax for a little bit.


Brooke  14:20

I always used to look to the next thing. My mind would race with questions of what was next? As soon as I got a contract I was worried about the next one, what else can I do? What if, what if I don’t have work? How can I taught the contract? Will everyone ever cast me get up and then suddenly, everything becomes still and calm. When you arrive at the place you know your heart is supposed to be. You stop trying to fill it with everything else. You rest, you exhale, and you’re not afraid to linger in the eyes of a man who fills your heart with a piece you have truly been aching for your whole life.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  14:57

The overwhelming love from all directions It’s so clear during the wedding and reception, it shines throughout the entire day, and everyone basks in it, and well for weeks to come. And thank God people have something wonderful to bask in because not even a month later, COVID-19 shuts down the entire world.


Brooke  15:20

So it’s 2020 obviously, everything’s shutting down, and I can remember his son wanting a pull up bar. Like the ones you put over the, you know, is getting, you know, freshman in high school, to impress the ladies. And so we’re like, that’s fine. But but please be so careful, if you go in the hospital, we can’t be with you in the hospital. If you break an arm, like that’s where we were. Again, before a vaccine before anything, this was like when you were still washing you’re like, male. Yes. You know […] Yes, Oscar would come home from work, and I was like, okay, all your clothes off we gotta wash them now sales. Like he was still going into his office, he was an HR director. And he really wanted this home workout machine. And he came in and I was cooking dinner, and we had a son and everything was normal about the day evening news was on, you know, and it’s this is April 27. So, two days after our three year mark of our first date, so April 27, and I’m cooking dinner and he was like, oh, I’m gonna work. I was like, okay, great. And so I go in to check on him. And he’s laying on the floor, and it’s like, okay, are you okay? Like, were joke, he was still loose, like talking. There’s a cat, it was really kind of hard workout was like, oh, it looks like ha, you know, and like, there’s a rating on the machine. You can grade it was like, I’m gonna give it a five because clearly that one was hard. Because like, yeah, I don’t really feel right, and he was still laying flat, and I was like, okay, well, you know, he’s like, I can’t move my I can’t move my arm, and I was like, okay, well, that’s weird. So I was like, get up like, I thought he was joking. Because, you know, he was a 44 at the time, like, healthy and physically fit, physically fit. And just, just, just, just perfect. And I so then I sat him up. And that’s when I saw like, the whole left side was gone of his body, and his face was drooping, like if like what you hear people speak of when stroke victims have their strokes. And so that’s an instant that is burned into my being because my brain went, you’re fucked everything’s done, everything is changing now.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  17:59

We’re back, it’s late April 2020. And broken Oscar’s day to day pandemic reality is scary enough. But Brooke has also just found Oscar on the floor after a home workout. The left side of his body has lost all control, and they need help now.


Brooke  18:17

So I call 911, and I can hear the operator. I said, I think he’s having a stroke. And the operator asked me to say a sentence. I don’t remember what it was and have Oscar repeat it back, and he, you know, he couldn’t move his mouth and I hear the operator go, oh, no and I was like, well, that’s what you want the 911 operator to say? And she said, okay, so ambulances on the way. His son, you know, was with us, we had him 50-50 custody of the time and so I unfortunately had to ask him, I was like, I need to stay with your Dad, can you go out to the driveway because they said to make sure someone’s able to let the ambulance know which house and so he was out in the driveway, flags the ambulance down, they come in, get Oscar on the stretcher. Bring him out into the ambulance. I can remember grabbing his wallet because we had a little bowl by the door like you do. Because I knew his insurance card was in there. And I remember his son just asking, is it his heart? And I was like, no, I think he’s had a stroke, but it’s going to be fine. And I’ll I’ll text you when we get to the hospital. And that was it. So I had to follow the ambulance. Because it wouldn’t let me in the ambulance. And so I get we get to the first hospital. And again, this is COVID, so I had to, you know, mask up do all the things to even get in the hospital. And they took him back. So I’m in the in this tiny little room waiting, waiting, waiting and it was taking longer and longer and I was like well this isn’t good. If it’s taking this long. I think it was I think what is time in moments like these but I think it was around two hours before I heard from the first set of doctors and they came in with this like very just devastating look on their face. And they were like, I was like, well, what’s what’s happening? I need, you know, information. Well, we he’s he’s taking, you know, taking a turn, I don’t remember exactly what they said. But I remember saying, Is he still alive? Is he still with us? And they said, yes, he’s still alive but lifelight has been called because he suffered a seizure, and is unconscious. While he was going into the first scan, or one of the scans they were doing, because when they put him, they told me when they put him on, you know, that scan table at first, he was still talking and was still able to communicate with them and then started to seize.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  20:38

The doctor’s give Brooke directions to a different hospital where Oscar is now headed, since the situation is growing even more dire. And once again, she finds herself behind the wheel of her car, driving all alone full of panic, not knowing what on earth is going on, or what state her husband is currently in.


Brooke  20:58

So I get there, and I go into the hospital, and they stopped me. And I said, okay, I’m here for my husband. And they said, well, you can’t go, oh, you know, COVID, hospitals closed, you can’t go up, but we’ll contact you. And I was like, okay, I walk away, and two seconds. They audibly are like, Miss come back, because they had called up to the neuro ICU, and they said, actually, they’ve given you permission to go upstairs, which now I know, is because he was dire. I thought, Oh, what a wonderful gesture, it’s like, no, it’s because they, they knew how bad it was when they saw when they got into I believe his brain, and so I go up, and I’m in a waiting room, again, just by myself, and at this point, gosh, it’s probably two or three in the morning. And I just remember like that shivering that you get when it’s really late, and you’re just freezing and and I was very thirsty. But I didn’t have a blank, I didn’t have anything, I didn’t have anybody. So I would sit in a chair and kind of like, go in and out and just like couldn’t fall asleep could fall. And then one of the doctors came in and started to try to explain to me what happened. And you know, it’s all this medical jargon, and just like, wait, what, like we just got married? Like he hasn’t even seen the wedding pictures really yet.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  22:20

Well, Brooke is in the state of utter confusion and shock, the doctors tell her what they’ve discovered, which is that Oscar was born with an arteriovenous malformation, that a group of blood vessels in his body never formed properly. And that this medical event that he’s undergoing was basically the result of a ticking time bomb since birth. They let her into the room to see him. But the time they spend together is incredibly short.


Brooke  22:47

I got about 30 minutes, and then they had to kick me out because of COVID. And I thought I could go home. I went home. And my friend Julie was like no work, you can’t be alone. I was like, no, I’ll be fine. I can be I can, she’s like no you can’t, we’re gonna come get you, we’re gonna because this dinner was still on the stove, you know, like.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:09

And it’s what time it’s for?


Brooke  23:12

Now it’s about nine in the morning.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:14

Oh my god, Brooke.


Brooke  23:15

So, and so that’s another thing I’ll never forget because of COVID was like, yeah, I was in a hospital. Like at this time again, like, I don’t want to kill all of you, because I don’t know what I was exposed to at a hospital. The COVID layer to all this is just.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:30



Brooke  23:31

Yeah, and so I will never forget opening the door, and Julia had a blanket, and it’s like slow motion in my mind through the entire blanket over her body. And just like opened her arms. And I just like fell into it and started bawling. But it’s like the slow mo, like, it’s so ridiculous now, but that’s what we were doing in April of 2020. And they were they had gloves on to touch me like we couldn’t, you know. So Teresa helped clean they helped me clean up the kitchen and stuff. And Julia was like, you cannot be here alone. It’s like a don’t expose your family, she said we’ll figure it out, which is amazing. So I stayed with her again. I think for a couple of days. I don’t really remember it, my parents really wanted to come get me but of course not only was I worried about exposing them because they were older but I wanted to stay in Houston. I wanted to be close to where Oscar was.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  24:27

A few days in Brookes parents do come and pick her up and bring her back to their house in the suburbs. By this point, Brookes, attention and memory are going in and out as she sits in the shock of all that’s happened in just a few days. So much has changed. Yet basically nothing is changing. The bleak waiting game continues.


Brooke  24:51

This is now day three or four of him being in the ICU, I was at joy as I think for a couple of days. And you know every hour, I’m getting calls from the nurse or calls from a doctor to approve a feeding tube to approve of this or that or this, you know, so there’s all these decisions I was having to make about Oscar’s life and well being, while also trying to understand what just happened. And then I get to my parents house, people will come but we sit outside and you know, six feet apart in chairs, and I can’t get hugs. I can’t, we can’t be together. And I did get a colleague of mine was able to, she had a connection with a with a doctor at the hospital where Oscar was and reached out and was able to get me in to see Oscar for about an hour. But I went in and it was just covered in PPE, plastic, like, head to toe. I have my glasses on, I was crying, obviously, and so they kept fogging up, but I just kept telling him how handsome he was. And like I wore the cologne he wore on our wedding day to and played our music to hope that maybe it would, it would allow him to like, open his like, we just needed him to open his eyes. And then it kind of turned and I realized that he he shouldn’t open his eyes like the prognosis and the and the, what the doctors were telling me about the life that he might potentially be in store for. You was not going to be anything he ever would have wanted to live.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  26:38

Brooke says that the doctors chose gentle ways to explain Oscar’s prognosis, they would ask what kind of lifestyle he lived and what his days looked like in the before times. And then they tell her that that wasn’t the kind of life he’d ever be able to live again. She knew that if he ever woke up, she’d shift from being his new bride to his caretaker. And that her sweet, polite selfless husband who lived with her for three years, but I’d never so much as burped in front of her would hate that.


Brooke  27:11

I would FaceTime him every night with the nurse advocate and tell him good night and I love you know the things and you can do it and just open your eyes, open your eyes. And then I turned to it’s okay, you know, I’m okay, you can let it go. You can, you can, it’s okay.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  27:32

Oscar is moved to yet another ICU. By this point, he’s remained in the same condition and one hospital or another for 11 days. And at this new hospital, the medical team is going to try a new therapeutic strategy to see if it might help turn things around.


Brooke  27:50

I remember having to go get clothes from our house and pack a bag for him. Because they said they would do therapy in his real clothes and not in a hospital gown, which is kind of part of their thing. It was like okay, so I packed a bag and brought it and but I couldn’t see him because of COVID, so had to drop the bag off at the front desk and and just go back to my parents house. And just, you know, wait, just waiting. And then I got a call from a doctor at this hospital that said, Your husband’s heart has stopped and you need to get to the emergency room right away. We jumped in the car, and I can remember going under this overpass and just feeling something just say close your eyes, so I was like I remember my mom was kind of talking about I just was tuned out close my eyes. And I felt like like two hands against my shoulders. And just like they would push down my arms like this tingly, hot feel and then I opened my eyes and it was 11:48 in the morning. And I was like that’s he’s gone, I knew he was gone. And so I got to the emergency room and went in and again, what could go with me? And so I checked in and said what I was there for and went in the waiting room. And then a nurse kind of immediately came and got me to bring me back to a more private area and the doctor called again and said Mrs. Cares, I’m so sorry but your husband didn’t make it.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  29:47

We’re back after 11 days of waiting, praying, hoping for things to turn around. Brooke finds out that her beautiful perfect husband has died. After nearly two weeks of profound stress, and waiting and hospitals and COVID protocols, everything suddenly comes crashing down.


Brooke  30:12

That my body stopped working. My knees, buckle that, just like, this is not reality. And so it’s like, okay, so pick myself up off the floor, go back out to my parents car, because they were still like, it just I was in that emergency room for maybe a minute. They drove me back to the other hospital just around the corner. And I got up to they obviously, were gonna let me in this time. And they’re like, do you want a chaplain? And I’m not a very, like, whatever, person but I was like, yeah, sure. I just wanted somebody with me, like, whatever, just another human because it just all of this, I’d had to walk through by myself. And I mean, I know I had a multitude of support, but physically just, you know, by myself, and so when in his they, they had to had to wait a few minutes, because they were finishing up, whatever they had to finish up to when you try to resuscitate someone, and just went in, and he was laying there, just, you know, still, I wanted to lay in the bed with them. But I couldn’t, I didn’t put my whole weight on him because I didn’t want to hurt him. And it’s like I couldn’t like I was so I had one leg on the floor. And the rest I was just laying on his chest, and I just kept crying and saying, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, you didn’t you know, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be and and I told his family and I had to tell this his son once you know, everything got it was just this whirlwind, you know, this whirlwind of like, what is what just happened? And so and you know, they just come in pretty quick and say, okay, what funeral home do you want us to call? Just things that the roller coaster of we literally had the best day of our lives ever. Two months later, here I am. I don’t, I don’t understand.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  32:24

I am so sorry.


Brooke  32:27

Thank you.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  32:31

Grief is our is already so isolating so lonely, and.


Brooke  32:36

It is and I can just remember laying over his body, we didn’t put him in a casket, we just had him kind of laid out. And just laying on top of them, just these wailing sounds that came out of like, I remember when my grandfather passed away my grandmother making those sounds because I was in the in their apartment when they took his my grandfather’s body out. And I can remember what ma’am, my mom, my grandmother, what the sound she made. And I just remember thinking, oh my God, I hope I like how can anyone feel that and continue to move forward. And it’s just like this guttural noise that I hope I don’t make again for a very long time. And, and just running my hands through his hair, which sounds so weird this, but it just when it’s your person, it’s not a corpse, it’s like your person in there. It’s just so fucked up. And so yeah, this loneliness of all of that and then trying to figure out well, what do I do now?


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  33:52

In some ways, some very human ways. Brooke is frozen completely still, in other ways. And you’ve heard this awful, frustrating story before. She has she had to do arrangements need to be made, accounts need to be closed paperwork needs to be signed. It’s terrible, and infuriating, and it feels impossible. And yet, like before Brooke is the only person equipped to make these decisions. So she has to snap into action, whether she’s ready or not. Plus, there’s literally no space to even sit and grieve and mourn collectively. It is the thick of COVID so Oscar can’t even have a funeral.


Brooke  34:37

I couldn’t eat for months. I lost like 20 pounds, like I couldn’t my legs didn’t work. At one point, I mean, I didn’t shower for like 12 days, I couldn’t brush my teeth like you can’t do anything. You stop functioning. But at the same time I had to make decisions but like it was just so a navigating like their legal thing like it was just so many things at all that I couldn’t, I knew. So I started processing it immediately, I started thinking, I don’t have time to just sit here and cry, I gotta, I gotta do shit, I gotta take care Oscar still, I gotta take make sure he’s gonna get the best. I got to start thinking about bills to pick, like, I just went into business mode, and started also processing it. And, and not I wasn’t denying it at the same time. It’s like, there was the shock but I was also it’s like, it’s hard to describe. But I’m grateful that at the time I was digesting as much as I was because it has allowed me to, I think a sludge through this with a little bit more forward movement.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  35:50

It’s just so fucking goddamn unfair. It doesn’t make sense, it is not the way anything should have gone like that crippling, this is not fair, right? Like you want to throw your body on the ground? How where do you put that? Like, does that change? Does that like how do you negotiate that? How do you? Where does that live now?


Brooke  36:16

For me, the biggest thing was just not being afraid of whatever emotion was coming up. So when I was fucking pissed and wanted to just scream, I did it. When I was wanting to cry, I did it. When I wanted to laugh, I did it. When I wanted to just stare at his picture, which took me months to even look at a picture of his I did it. I just have not stopped myself from feeling and still feel like this is not fair, and still have moments where I get pissed about it. But for me, the biggest thing that helps me was just not pushing it down. And putting it in a spot where I couldn’t feel it. I might not be able to feel it sometimes in the moment, like if I’m teaching dance to eighth graders, I can’t really scream out this is not fair. But unless they’re talking too much, which they don’t they actually I mean reshaped it to.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  37:12

Eighth graders might actually appreciate it like we hear you were hearing.


Brooke  37:17

But, you know, so there are moments as I’ve gone on in this journey, where I’ve had to know where I could put it, but I just also knew I had to feel it in the moment because I have seen this implode people. And I didn’t want to be that for Oscar, I just at the end of the root of the answer to your question is Oscar. Yes, it’s not fair but I can’t become this shell of who I was, because he’s gone cuz that would sounds weird but what we always say was like that would kill him. That would kill him to know that he is the reason that I stopped living. I mean, I have to live even harder and even more because he doesn’t get to, you know, I’m older now than he was. I’ve lived longer than he has. Which is not okay, but it’s also the reality. And I still say fuck off, this isn’t fair and I don’t think everything happens for a reason, by the way. Fuck that, I hate that and don’t tell me it’s some higher powers plan. Y’all can go fuck yourself fall about that sucks. I’m sorry.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  38:29

How about that? Sucks, and the world is chaos.


Brooke  38:35

They’re in a better place now. But again, this is people don’t know what to say to us. It’s like, and I understand that, but just hug them.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  38:45

Yeah, I understand that but there are things that are fucking terrible to say. The three things that you just listed are one, two, and three.


Brooke  38:52

So you know, part of it is, is walking through all of those things but there’s not really a place where that has gone to answer your question, it’s still there, because it’s not fair. I had to call and cancel our honeymoon, and when they asked the reason, I had to say my husband died. So those things suck and those are not things you want to do two months after your marriage. But I did it, and I will continue to do hard things. And there’s this almost like the superhero cape you where you’re like, I fucking walked through the absolute worst thing you can walk through and I’m still here. So that’s another thing that helps me push through these emotions because I’m still here. So be pissed and throw the fucking glass against the wall and do whatever you need to do but just don’t stop. Like don’t stop breathing. You don’t even have to like make a tap, just don’t let it be something that will take your essence away because the person you lost doesn’t want that.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  40:01

It’s been almost four years since Oscar’s death. And those years have been a constant push and pull of feeling completely grief stricken and being a productive human being in the world. Brooke has been trying to find the right balance and doing her best to sludge through a thing that never should have happened. And as usual, as it always does, change has come bit by bit whether we like it or not.


Brooke  40:32

I have started dating again, I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man, and that’s been great. And he’s been so understanding about trying to date again, as a widow when you’re in your 40s is weird. People don’t know what to do with you. They expect you to be divorced, but not a widow bonus nd both. You’re welcome.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  40:57

You got both.


Brooke  40:58

And so I’m like, but I’m very, I’m very well adjusted to both sir what’s the problem? But like, some people would be like, I just don’t think I can handle it. I’m like, you can’t handle it, that was very eye opening, and this person just didn’t. He didn’t balk at it, he lets me talk about Oscar when I need to and it’s, it’s, he’s very different than Oscar, which is fabulous, and I’ve told him that I’m like, I know Oscar had a hand in bringing me to you. Another kind of sixth sense thing. Christmas first Christmas. No second Christmas. I’ve can’t remember, the first holidays I didn’t even I mean, those are a blur, oh my god […] Oh, gross. Thanks, Hallmark and so I’m laying there with my daily dog, my old Doxon will Oscars all ducks in that I took on my own, and I heard clears day this voice and it was Oscar. And he was like, next Christmas Dilly dog won’t be here but you won’t be alone. And I was like, okay, three months later, Dilly dog passed, and then four months after that I met my current boyfriend so like it just, I know that, that he has handled all this because the thing he wanted me to be the most was happy for the both of us. And yeah, I’m a relationship person I love fiercely and sometimes I don’t want to even talk about my new person, because I got so excited and talked about this person when he left so there’s a little bit of this weird, like, PTSD is like, I don’t even you know, it’s so weird like the random little things that are just like, forever, like you say, you’re forever changed, and you’re forever, I try really hard to keep all those things in check and not let it ruin my life but of course, there are going to be some fears of people suddenly leaving, you know? So that and I did go to therapy and all that stuff and that was all great but I think these things are just going to be here.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:02

So another thing you have to learn to live with.


Brooke  43:03



Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:04

It’s you live alongside it.


Brooke  43:06

You do, you do.


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:11

I mean, it seems like Oscar was magnificent, being truly. When you think about Oscar now and you think about the journey that you’ve had, like, how do you feel changed from having known him? Like, what imprint has that left on you?


Brooke  43:30

He was so good at being generous. And not just like, monetarily, and so selfless. You know, I think everyone’s out for themselves now and it’s all just me and but Oscar was so good at thinking about other people, we had a couple of friends dogs at one time when we were on a trip and I had mentioned that they wouldn’t because they ran to the store to get ramen actors as well, I mean, that’s what we eat and this man ordered $80 worth of tacos from this place here in Houston and had it delivered to them like that’s what I mean that’s who he was. And just being less to just snap or, or or think the worst of people not that I was doing that but Oscar just I mean, he he lived he if he wanted a pair of sunglasses, he bought the pair of sunglasses like he just was living. And he loved cars, he just loved all these different things and he just taught me that you just got to do it, you just got to live what are you waiting for? I’m not always good at it but knowing that there are these small stupid little things that just don’t fucking matter, and spending time and letting people that you love know how you feel about them, and how quickly things can go away. And we don’t have any time to waste.


CREDITS  45:08

There’s even more LAST DAY with Apple premium subscribers get exclusive access to content like behind the scenes chats with the producers of the show, diving deeper into episodes. Sign up now on Apple podcasts. LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. The show is produced by Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci, and Tiffany Bui. Our engineer is Brian Castillo. Music is by Hannis Brown. Steve Nelson is our Vice President of weekly content and production and Jackie Danziger is our Vice President of narrative content and production. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. If you’d like what you heard today, we have three other seasons that you can check out. Have a story you’d like to share, head to, or click the link in the show notes to fill out our confidential Google Form. follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership. You can find us online at @LemonadaMedia and you can find me at @WittelStephanie. Thank you for listening, we will see you next week.

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