"There is an incredible cruelty in it all," Pierce Brosnan said about losing his first wife to cancer.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 15, 2020. It has since been updated.
Pierce Brosnan felt the pang of longing, and separation again and again till he finally came to terms with the reality of his life. The James Bond star lost the love of his life, his first wife, to ovarian cancer on December 28, 1991, and could never stop missing her. When Brosnan first met Cassandra Harris, he was "bowled over" by her and went on to become her husband; only to have her snatched away after 11 years of togetherness. The blue-eyed actor, a Hollywood heartthrob, has since spoken about the pain and helplessness that he felt as he watched his beloved wife fade away from the world.
In a 1992 interview with People, he expressed his gratitude for having Cassie (as he lovingly called her) in his life, who he believed impacted all aspects of his life. "She has made me the man I am, the actor I am, the father I am. She's forever embedded in every fiber of my being. She's there with me every day. I was so blessed to have met someone like that," he said.
Even after her sad demise, Brosnan believed that it was her who was making positive things happen in his life. When he was informed that his film The Lawnmower Man was a box office hit, he went to the exact spot in the garden where Cassie used to sit and thanked her for "moving the pieces" to impact his life. "Cassie used to sit in that chair over there, under these trees, so I just went there and I talked," Brosnan said. "I told her, 'Well, darling, I know you’re up there moving the pieces around.'" Unlike most other Hollywood couples of that time, the Brosnan couple never shied away from showing affection to each other in public. In a 1983 interview, Cassie had said, "Here was this funny-looking man with this short haircut. But we had much in common... and once we started talking, we never stopped."
However, her diagnosis forever changed their lives and things never returned to normal. Her regular treatments became the worst part of their lives. As her condition worsened, Brosnan tried to hold her as close to himself as he could. He spent his time beside her, trying to contemplate what went wrong. He recalled a time when they were lying together in a hospital bed and Cassie was trying to instill courage in him.
"She said, 'Please, darling, don't worry. It's just a life winding down.' What can you do?" he said. "Up until then, there was always something, some new treatment. But then the options got fewer and fewer. At the end, Cassie didn’t want to be resuscitated [by] any machines."
"The night Brosnan lost the woman he vowed to spend his whole life with, he said, "That was one of the longest nights of my life ever," he said and the next morning, she passed away. But her passing would never erase her memories from his being. A little over 20 years later, history repeated itself. Brosnan was struck by another blow when his daughter, Charlotte, died of the same disease as Cassie, in 2013. She was the daughter of Cassandra from her previous partner, who Brosnan had adopted legally after her demise.
Although he was not Charlotte and Christopher's (Cassandra's son from her previous partner) biological father, he loved them dearly. "We just clicked as a family," he said. "To begin with, I was Pierce, then I was Daddy Pierce, and then I just became Dad. Charlotte and Chris have just been amazing in my life. Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, courage and dignity. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our beautiful dear girl,” Brosnan told People at the time.
After Charlotte's passing Brosnan wrote to one of his long-time friends, Nancy Ellison, that he always wanted to make her laugh and that's the most intense memory he had of Charlotte," reports People. "Pierce wrote to me after she died that the most intense memory that he had was of always being able to make Charlotte laugh. He wanted to be able to make her laugh again, said Nancy.
Although the death of Brosnan's first wife, whose impact he said would last forever, and his daughter, who he loved dearly, broke him again and again; he did not lose hope or faith in life. He gathered the strength Cassie had always wanted him to possess and carried on with life.
He found love again and married again but Cassie never left his heart and forever kept inspiring him.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Staff