"If I die tomorrow," John Travolta said, "the last thing I want to see is everyone around me sinking."
When John Travolta lost his wife after nearly three decades of marriage, he was not only immersed in his own grief but knew he had to help his children through their own grief of losing a loving mother. In a statement after Kelly Preston's death, the actor said, "I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal. All my love, JT."
A year has passed since Preston passed away from cancer in July 2020. And Travolta recently revealed how her death forced their 10-year-old son, Benjamin, to confront the inevitable presence of death in all our lives. While speaking to Kevin Hart on his talk show, Hart to Heart, Travolta spoke about the candid conversation he had with Benjamin as they were taking a walk in the neighborhood.
"He said to me once, 'Because mom passed away, I'm afraid you're going to,'" Travolta said. "I said, 'Well, it's a very different thing.' And I went through the differences about my longevity and her limited life." Although it may be difficult for a parent, Travolta tried to be as honest as he could with his son. "I said, 'But you know, Ben... you always love the truth and I'm going to tell you the truth about life. Nobody knows when they're gonna go or when they're going to stay,'" the Grease star recalled.
"Your brother [Jett] left at 16. Too young. Your mother left at 57. That was too young. But who's to say? I could die tomorrow. You could. Anybody can," added the actor. "So let's look at it like it's part of life. You don't know exactly. You just do your best at trying to live the longest you can."
Since tying the knot in 1991, Travolta and Preston became parents to three children, Jett, Ella (now 21 years old), and Benjamin. They were absolutely shattered by the tragic death of Jett after he was found collapsed at the family's hotel in the Bahamas. When Travolta saw his son, he had an immediate meltdown and clung on to his unresponsive body.
"John went behind the hospital curtain, tears in his eyes. I could see the sorrow. I could see the love in his eyes for his son," recalled paramedic, Tarino Lightbourn, who rushed the teenager to the hospital from the hotel room, according to IOL. "When he was hugging his son he said, 'I'm sorry, Jett.' I think he meant, 'I'm sorry Jett, I did all I could do,'" added the paramedic.
Decades after losing his son, Travolta saw his beloved wife pass away following a two-year-old battle with cancer. The actor opened up about the grief he experienced and told Esquire Spain, as quoted by ET, "I learned that mourning someone, dealing with grief is something very personal. Mourning is individual and experiencing your own journey is what can lead you to heal. Your grief is different from another person's journey."
"If I die tomorrow," he added, "the last thing I want to see is everyone around me sinking."
Cover image source: (L) Kelly Preston/Instagram and (R) Getty Images | Photo by Matt Winkelmeye