Making peace with, and accepting, death as a basic truth enables us to have the kind of peaceful death most of us say we want. But what about the loved ones we may be leaving behind? How do we make sure that the important things between our loved ones and us are never left unsaid?
CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his mother, the heiress, socialite and jeans creator Gloria Vanderbilt, are leaving nothing to chance. Around Vanderbilt’s 91st birthday, she and Cooper began a protracted email exchange that covered the deepest secrets, sharpest emotions and enduring tragedies of their lives.
Shortly after his brother, Carter, committed suicide in the 1980s, Anderson Cooper wrote a note to his mother that said, “From now on, we are partners.” Cooper’s father and Vanderbilt’s fourth husband, actor and screenwriter Wyatt Cooper, had passed away unexpectedly during heart surgery in 1978.
This partnership between mother and son has persisted for nearly 30 years and persists as they face its inevitable end. The year-long exchange of confidences between Cooper and Vanderbilt has now been transformed into a joint memoir, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss, due out on April 5. Accompanying this book is an April 9 HBO documentary about the duo titled Nothing Left Unsaid.
When asked about his motivations for this exchange, Cooper explained his realization that there were many things that neither of them actually knew about the other. “I just think the public perception of her is very different than the person I actually knew. She’s 92 now. She’s been making headlines from the time she was born,” Cooper recently told CBS Sunday Morning as he sat with his mom for an interview. “And I kind of wanted to reveal the person that I know, and the person that she really is.”