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Amanda Kloots is reflecting on her love story with Nick Cordero, his death due to complications of COVID-19, and her life since. In her new book, Live Your Life, the 39-year-old fitness instructor candidly opens up about both the happiest moments in her life, and the most devastating.
From her first meeting with her future husband, their breakups and makeups, and the arrival of their now 2-year-old son, Elvis, to Cordero's first sign of illness, his leg amputation, and eventual death, Kloots holds nothing back as she recounts each moment.
"It was definitely so emotional," Kloots recently told ET's Nischelle Turner of penning the moving book, a task she completed with the help of her sister, Anna. "There were nights that I was crying so hard I couldn't even see the keyboard. I mean, it was just kind of like reliving all of this. Not even the pain of reliving it, but just knowing that it's over. We won't have more memories. We won't be able to make more memories. That was always really hard."
"It kind of just was another way of noticing that my life has changed and that he is gone," she added. "Writing the story down kind of made me feel like, 'OK, this has happened.'"
Keep scrolling to read the 11 biggest takeaways from Live Your Life, which is out now.
Kloots was married when she and Corderomet, and he thought they were "too different" to make a relationship work.
Kloots and Cordero met when they were cast alongside one another in Bullets Over Broadway. At the time, Kloots was "happily married" to someone else, another actor who was gearing up to head out on a national tour.
While her then-husband was away and they had decided to end their marriage, Kloots and Cordero built a friendship, which started in earnest when they spoke at a bar one night after work.
"It was one of those conversations that sparks a connection, a real bond," she writes. "We ended up talking for hours -- it felt like a movie scene where the time passes in slow motion for two characters, while the world all around them continues moving at a usual pace... People came in and out of the scene around us, but we kept coming back to this deep conversation until we suddenly realized it was two o’clock in the morning."
While she was broken up with her husband, but before they were officially divorced, Kloots and Cordero started dating in secret, in an effort to keep her divorce and new relationship quiet.
"Everyone told me that it was too soon to be dating someone. That I needed time alone to heal and figure things out -- Nick said that more than anyone," she writes. "But I always told them that being with Nick made me happy, and at that time, I needed to do things that made me happy."
Though their early years "were fun and carefree," Cordero and Kloots weren't an expected match.
"Nick and I were very different people. Nick always said 'too different.' We didn’t see the world, marriage, and family the same," she writes, pointing to Cordero's love for socializing and "wild past," as opposites to her "straight-laced" nature.
The one difference that really tested their relationship, though, was that of religion, with Kloots putting her faith "at the root of every choice" she made, and Cordero not being "a believer."
"We had many arguments about it," she writes. "We had our ups and downs. We fought. We broke up twice."
They eventually got back together for good when Cordero's dad got sick and it inspired him to win Kloots back. After being successful in his mission, Cordero popped the question and they tied the knot in September 2017. They welcomed their son, Elvis, less than two years later.
"It was a lot of massive life changes in a short period of time, but it was everything I had dreamed of," she writes.
Their differences did not wane with marriage, though. Kloots and Cordero's arguments centered largely around his desire to move to Los Angeles and hers to stay in New York. Eventually, she gave in.
"We saw two different worlds and futures, but Nick would not shut up about California," she writes. "Such a huge part of marriage is compromise and understanding. I knew that unless I agreed to go to LA and try it, he would never be happy. He had grown so negative about Manhattan that it affected his daily mood, and it was important to me that my husband be happy."
Kloots was initially "frustrated" by Cordero's fatigue.
After purchasing a home in California and deciding to make the move, Cordero and Kloots wrestled with deciding whether or not they should go back to New York to pack up their things.
It was March 2020 at the time, and, while COVID-19 was becoming a topic of concern, not much was known about the virus at that point. Cordero suggested they hire packers and movers, but it "felt impossible" for Kloots. The decision to go to New York is something Kloots questions to this day, as it's on that trip that her husband likely picked up COVID-19.
"I had the strangest feeling it would be a very long time before we would see New York again," she writes. "… We made it back to California. We felt so safe. We had successfully packed up our life, moved everything, said our goodbyes, and flown cross-country during a pandemic. The scary part was finally over. We are going to be okay, we thought. Now I look back and think we should never have gone to New York."
When they made it to California, Cordero was tired from the trip and lacked an appetite, but made sure to celebrate Kloots' birthday, even promising to throw her the "best birthday party" when the world returned to normal. That night was the last time Kloots slept by her husband in their bed.
Over the next few days, Cordero's exhaustion didn't lessen. Rather, his frequent naps and inability to complete simple tasks made Kloots feel annoyance toward her husband.
"When Nick first said he was feeling fatigued on Friday morning, I thought, 'Yeah, me, too,'" she writes. "COVID was in the back of our minds at this point, of course. It was on everyone’s mind. But he had none of the symptoms. He had no preexisting conditions. He was forty-one years old."
"His behavior seemed normal, all things considered," Kloots continues. "I feel awful now, because at the time, I felt a little frustrated. He was just sleeping all day, and I was alone doing everything for Elvis, for the house, and for our family. I remember thinking, 'Okay, I guess you’re just going to sleep then.'"
Things changed nearly a week in, when Cordero fainted while changing Elvis' diaper. It was the first time that she felt "a little scared." At the time, Cordero "was convinced" he had COVID-19, but Kloots doubted it because of his apparent lack of symptoms.
Kloots took Cordero to urgent care and seemed to be proven right when they refused to test him for the virus, and instead diagnosed him with pneumonia. Days after that visit, though, Cordero got worse, and began to struggle to breathe. She decided to drop him off at the emergency room.
"We didn’t hug or kiss goodbye. We couldn’t. He didn’t say goodbye to Elvis, which breaks my heart every time I think about it," she writes. "It was clear he had something, but we weren’t thinking that there was any possibility of his being admitted. We thought that I was dropping him off for an hour, maybe two. I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see him as him. He was never the same again. He woke up, but he never really came back."
The gravity of Cordero's illness didn't sink in for a while.
Cordero ended up being admitted to the hospital and placed in the ICU because his organs weren't getting enough oxygen. Shortly thereafter, he called Kloots to tell her that he was going on a ventilator.
"'They have to put me in a medically induced coma so my body can rest. It should only be a few days, but I won’t be able to talk to you anymore after this call. I’m scared,' he said," Kloots recalls. "'I’m scared, too, honey,' I whispered, trying not to wake up Elvis, 'but it will be okay. I’m sure what the doctors are saying is the right thing. I’ll take care of Elvis -- don’t worry about us. I love you,' I said. 'I love you, too.'"
"I didn’t understand the seriousness of that decision. Neither did Nick," she continues. "April 1 at four a.m. was the last time I heard my husband’s voice."
A nurse later told Kloots what Cordero said and did in the last moments before going on the ventilator.
"Nick had talked about how much he loved Elvis and me. He said Nick had even shown him pictures of us and told him about our new home in Laurel Canyon," Kloots writes, before revealing that the nurse said, "He was afraid to go on the ventilator. Before he went under, he asked me, 'Will I see my wife and child again?'"
Even with her husband hospitalized, Kloots believed that there "was no reason to panic" about his condition, as she "remained very confident that Nick was going to be just fine."
"Being removed from the hospital entirely that first week kept me from understanding the gravity of the situation. When you aren’t there witnessing it, it’s harder to believe that it’s even happening," she explains. "I knew Nick was in the ICU, in a coma. But that’s all I knew."
"I could just listen to positive phone calls and take away from them the message, 'He is improving,'" Kloots adds. "... There wasn’t a bone in my body that didn’t believe that he was coming home soon."
Cordero died for two minutes while hospitalized.
Everything began sinking in on the morning of April 10, when Kloots got a call from Cordero's doctor. During the call, the doctor revealed that Cordero had developed an infection and spiked a fever, causing his blood pressure to drop and his heart to stop for two minutes.
While the doctors were able to resuscitate Cordero, they cautioned that his survival was "minute to minute," and, as such, he was going to have to undergo surgery and be placed on ECMO.
"[The doctor] told me this in such a calm, collected tone that I didn’t really understand the severity of what he was saying," Kloots writes. "An ECMO machine is a last-ditch effort, a machine you go on only if you are seriously ill. I didn’t know this at the time; I had never heard of an ECMO before. The only thing I kept hearing and replaying in my head were the words 'He died for two minutes.'"
Though she may not have understood everything that was happening, Kloots knew it wasn't good. She "started shaking and fell to the ground" after the call, began praying, and wondered how "this had come out of nowhere."
The surgery was a success, but things continued to get worse. Eventually, she had to give her consent to put Cordero on dialysis to try and help his failing kidneys.
"This day didn’t feel real. Everything had changed so quickly, and I didn’t understand how or why," she writes. "Yesterday morning all was well, and he was about to come off the ventilator. Now he needed machines to support every major organ in order to keep him alive. I felt so helpless and terrified."
Another surgery followed, and while Kloots singing to Cordero over FaceTime seemed to help his blood pressure, there weren't any big improvements.
Kloots "crumbled" when she saw Corderoin person for the first time, just before his leg was amputated.
No improvements changed into a giant setback, when a blood clot in Cordero's leg caused the limb to die, turning his toes, foot, and calf black. Kloots had to consent to Cordero's leg being amputated, which was something she knew he'd struggle with when he woke up.
"I immediately thought of that moment. How he would react," she writes. "He has been asleep through all of this, all these terrifying and scary things that have happened to him. He will wake up at some point and realize how much time has gone by. Realize all that he missed. Then he’ll realize that he’s missing one leg. I couldn’t even imagine it. He will be devastated, in shock. I was devastated; I was in shock just thinking of it."
The choice to consent was ultimately "easy," though, because "it was his life, or his leg." Still, Kloots writes, "Until this day, I believed wholeheartedly that he would leave the hospital just as he had entered it. Now I knew he would not."
Because Cordero was set to undergo a life-threatening surgery, Kloots was allowed to visit him in the hospital for the first time.
"With that first glimpse of him, I crumbled. I saw for the first time what COVID-19 had done to Nick. Tears streamed down my face as I took it all in.... I couldn’t believe it was real. I’d never felt so sick or helpless in my life," she writes. "... This was day eighteen in the ICU, but the second I saw him, it felt like a reset to a new day one. Everything finally clicked, and I sensed the connection I had been missing, but at the same time, I felt like a fish out of water."
Kloots left the hospital just before Cordero went into surgery. She had a panic attack as she did so, she wrestled with the knowledge that he may not survive.
"That day, I finally crashed," she writes. "Exhaustion overtook my mind, body, and soul, and I couldn’t do anything but crawl into my bed, still wet from the shower, take a Xanax, and continue to cry until I fell asleep."
Cordero survived the leg amputation surgery.
Kloots got permission to see Cordero, but wasn't allowed to reveal that on social media.
After the surgery, Kloots started to get permission to visit Cordero sporadically. It's something that the huge social media following she'd gained had been rooting for all along, but she wasn't allowed to share the news publicly.
"It was difficult to keep this huge piece of information secret, but the hospital asked me to not publicize that I was visiting," she writes. "I don’t think that they were trying to hide their actions, but rather that given all the attention Nick and I had received, my sense was that they were worried about creating a media spectacle and frankly I was, too."
"When I began sharing this story on Instagram, no one knew who Nick or I was," Kloots adds. "... I never imagined how critical he would become, how many people would end up following along, and all the things I would end up publicly sharing. So keeping some things private was important for me, for the doctors, and for Nick."
During those visits, Cordero was not looking good. His hands were swollen and his fingertips and remaining toes were black, meaning he'd lose some of them eventually. He'd lost weight and color, too.
It was soon discovered that, when Cordero had died for two minutes, he'd had two strokes. Then, he needed a pacemaker. Next, there was an infection in his lungs, which caused the organs to look like "someone who's been smoking 10 packs a day for 50 years." Cordero was also in a state of sepsis, and required a feeding tube. Above all, though, it was "starting to get worrisome" that Cordero hadn't woken up.
After one conversation with a doctor, Kloots came home and told her family what he'd said about Cordero's outlook.
"He said if he lives through this, he’ll probably carry around oxygen for the rest of his life. He said if he lives through this, he might be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life," she recalls in the book. "He believes there’s a good chance that if he does wake up, his speech will be drastically affected. He may never be able to move his arms normally again because of where the strokes occurred. He may not be able to chew. He may not be able to move the right side of his body."
When it came down to it, Cordero would "never live a normal life" again.
"Today was the first time I understood the true extent of the damage COVID had done, understood that my husband would not make a full recovery and live a normal life," she writes. "Nor would we."
Kloots was "overjoyed" when Corderowoke up.
On May 5, some good news came, when the hospital called Kloots and revealed that Cordero's eyes were open and there were "very early signs" that he was waking up. "We couldn't contain our excitement," Kloots writes.
It was on a Mother's Day FaceTime call, though, that produced the most cause for celebration.
"When the nurse connected us, Nick’s eyes were wide open, wider than they had been before. 'Honey, it’s Amanda. It’s so lovely to see your eyes! Can you hear me, Nick?' He was looking right at me," she writes. "'Blink if you can hear me, Nick.' As if in slow motion, Nick’s eyelids shut and reopened. He was so weak that just to perform that tiny motion took him thirty seconds. But he did it."
“I was overjoyed. We were cheering, smiling, and in disbelief. He was communicating with us," she adds. "... It was the only gift I needed."
While waking up was a big step, doctors "were concerned" that he "had not shown any improvement" and was "plateauing."
At one point, doctors told Kloots that Corderowouldn't make it through the day.
Cordero soon entered "a severe state of acidosis," meaning that he was in danger of kidney and respiratory failure, and at a greater risk for a stroke.
It was around that time that a nurse told Kloots that they did "not expect" Cordero to "make it through the day."
"Nick looked bad. He was gray, not a trace of color in his face. I had never watched someone die, but this certainly looked a lot like I imagined it," she writes. "I was with Nick, holding his hand and rubbing his head, tears pouring down my face. The instant I saw him, I understood what the doctors were saying. Once I was in the room, it all became even more real… The numbers, which I knew all too well by now, were bad—very, very bad. I got scared."
"I was crying so hard, snot was running down my face and my mask was completely ruined. The doctors and nurses were all looking at me like we didn’t have much time. I didn’t know what to do," Kloots adds. "In many ways, I had been prepared for this for a while, but I wasn’t ready for today to be the day. There had been no warning signs. He had just woken up a week ago. I started making phone calls to immediate family and friends to FaceTime with him to say their goodbyes."
Kloots declined comfort care on Cordero's behalf, as she was hoping his family could make it to California from Canada to say their goodbyes. In the meantime, Kloots, who was joined at the hospital by her sister, Anna, said a goodbye of their own that largely relied on song and dance.
"We decided, without actually discussing it, that we didn’t want Nick’s last moments on this Earth to be sad. We felt like he could hear us," she explains. "So we told our favorite stories, described our favorite memories. We reminded him and each other of all the good times. We talked about all the beautiful moments, the funny moments, the magical moments."
"We forced ourselves to smile and laugh and talk about the good days," Kloots continues. "We still cried. We still felt devastated. But at least by focusing on the light, the room felt less dark."
Somehow, though, Cordero made it through, and, eventually, Kloots and her sister left the hospital "full of hope."
"They had told me that my husband was going to die that day. That there was nothing else that could be medically done," she writes. "But against all odds, Nick was still alive."
Believing that they helped with their songs, dances, and positivity, the Kloots sisters kept up the routine the next day, leaving the doctors "mystified" by Cordero's ability to stay alive.
Kloots eventually began questioning if it was "humane" to keep Corderoalive.
While Cordero stayed alive, he didn't improve and his doctors admitted that they were "out of ideas." One doctor took things a step further, telling Kloots to "face reality" that "no treatment is going to help him now."
The same doctor told Kloots that Cordero would "never leave this hospital," and that he was in pain amid all the treatments that were keeping him alive.
"It was the first time the humaneness of this situation was pushed on us, and we were made to feel like we were keeping Nick alive for us, instead of for him," Kloots writes. "[The doctor] presented the option of moving Nick to comfort care like it was an order, not a suggestion, and his words were so exact and brutal, they left us all stunned."
Shortly thereafter, Kloots got a call from the hospital, telling her to get there as quickly as she could. When she got there, another doctor echoed the first doctor's statements, telling Kloots, "We’re getting to a point where more harm is being done to Nick than help."
For the time being, though, Kloots opted to continue treatment. It was a decision she wrestled with.
"I was being told that keeping him alive was bordering on inhumane. I didn’t know what to believe anymore, or whom to trust. But it felt like this was really the end," she writes. "Nick had begun to look like someone who was dying, and every bit of me ached at the growing realization that I could lose him after all this. Why would he have survived everything in the past two months only to die now? That didn’t make any sense to me."
When June came around, Kloots writes that she had "started to accept a world in which Nick would never make it to rehab."
"Not even three months ago, my life had been completely normal. Nick had been a healthy, six-foot-five, 225-pound man. Now I sat beside his hospital bed, and it was hard to recognize any trace of him," Kloots writes, revealing that Cordero weighed just 148 pounds, had swollen hands with black fingertips, could not close his eyelids or jaw all the way, and had greasy hair and leathery skin.
If Cordero was going to survive, he'd need a lung transplant, a surgery he did not qualify for with all of his other ailments. Still, Kloots did her best to remain positive.
"I was preparing myself the whole time that I might lose him, but I had him right now. He was still alive and fighting. Why should I let my mind go to that dark place when, instead, I could sit here and pray? I could sing, smile, and believe," she writes. "The doctors on the floor were worried about my mental status, but I was only worried about Nick… I believed he would survive this with all of my heart, no matter how impossible it seemed."
Kloots believes that Corderocurated the playlist of his death.
While Cordero made it through June, it was early in the morning on July 4 that Kloots got a call from a "grave"-sounding doctor. Though Kloots had received similar calls multiple times before, she knew there was something "different" about this one.
Kloots made her way to the hospital with Cordero's family and Elvis not far behind.
"The moment I walked into his room, I could tell something had changed," she writes. "The energy was different, and the row of machines on either side of his bed suddenly seemed to tower over his body. He was gray in color, and just lying there."
A doctor soon confirmed Kloots' bad feeling, telling her that Cordero was on "100 percent life support," which was the only thing keeping him alive.
"[Cordero] had actually said to me that he would never want to be kept alive by machines in a hospital bed. I had agreed," Kloots writes. "After the doctor said that, I looked at Nick as though it was my first time walking into his room."
What she saw when she looked was a shell of the man she once knew.
"He was not Nick anymore," she writes. "There had been a time that he was. For a long time, he was there, and you could tell that he was fighting. But in these last couple of weeks, that had slowly changed. He was going, and I saw it that day. There wasn’t anything left of him... If he survived, the best-case scenario was that Nick would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, a life he didn’t want. But we knew he would not survive."
Once the decision was made and Cordero started to be taken off of life support, Kloots "became hysterical."
"I had known for weeks now that I was probably going to lose him; we had made the choice to let him go, but the reality that the actual moment was upon us absolutely devastated me," she writes. "There was no going back; I was going to lose him. I was crying so hard I couldn’t see, or breathe, or stand. Without my family around me, I think I would have had a full-on panic attack. I kept apologizing to Nick, telling him I was so sorry as I sobbed through mask after mask."
As Cordero was dying, Kloots believes that he was sending both her and his family signs through the songs that played. When the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" came on, Kloots thought it was Cordero telling her "that he loved me one last time." The Youngbloods' "Get Together" came on next, making it seem "as if Nick was using this song to thank us for coming together through this and becoming one united family instead of two separate ones."
"Nick couldn’t speak, but at this point I fully believed he was talking to us through the music. The songs were too poetic, too perfect to be random," she writes. "This song truly embodies who Nick was, his spirit, and what he believed in. It was him thanking us for coming together for him, and for one another. I didn’t know how he was doing it, but I knew Nick was curating this music."
The last song that played was Led Zeppelin's "Going to California," which Kloots found a lot of meaning in.
"Nick had wanted to come to California for that nice and simple life in Laurel Canyon. The lyrics read like a monologue: Nick’s last lines," she writes. "Toward the end of the song the tonality changes, and it sounds as if the words are actually coming from outside and above the vocalist’s own body as he sings, 'I think I might be sinking...' Finally, the song ends with a reverb-drenched voice in the background, singing, 'Ah, ah, ah, ah,' as if the vocalist is falling away slowly, until the music fades out completely. I had chills."
The days after Cordero's death were "foggy" for Kloots.
Kloots felt "defeated" as she left the hospital, and Cordero's death didn't feel real right away.
"The days after Nick died are foggy. I wasn’t in denial, but it just didn’t feel like he was gone," she writes. "It seemed like just another time that I wasn’t allowed to visit the hospital for a few days. It would take a bit of time before the pain set in, and then the grief. It’s still setting in, months later."
"All I really felt at first were just defeat and overwhelming sadness," Kloots continues. "… This fight had consumed every moment, thought, and ounce of energy for the last three months, and now, suddenly, it was over… The battle was over, and we had lost."
Kloots found her joy in Elvis, in her family, and in her supporters. Five months later, she moved into the home she and Cordero had bought together and found it to be a "strangely peaceful" place.
Kloots works to keep Cordero's memory alive every day, telling Elvis about his dad, playing his music, and looking at pictures of him. Cordero's loss, though, is still immensely felt.
"Being alone is hard. Being a single parent is harder. I feel the loss of my husband, my confidant, and Elvis’s dad each and every day," she writes. "... There are days when I feel very strong and proud of what I’m doing, and days I let self-pity take over and complain to myself that this is not fair. I should have my husband, and Elvis should have his dad."
Still, though, she moves forward.
"In some ways, it gets easier as time passes after losing someone, but in other ways, it gets harder every day," Kloots writes. "... I want the time to pass, but I also don’t, because I fear the memory of how he laughs, looks, and feels will fade as time goes on. I want to keep the memory of him alive. I want to feel like even though he’s gone, he isn’t that far away."