The Fourth of July is one of America’s biggest holidays, with celebrations these days including fireworks and parades across the USA.
But while many people excitedly plan a day full of fun and festivities, actor Liam Neeson only feels loss, pain and sorrow leading up to what should be a spectacular holiday.
July 3 is Liam and wife Natasha Richardson’s wedding anniversary.
Long before tragedy ended their 16-year marriage, Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson shared the kind of love that inspired the Hollywood movies and productions they starred in.
Liam Neeson will never forget the good times he shared with his late wife. The Northern Ireland-born actor dated Brooke Shields for a short while before meeting his wife, actress Natasha Richardson.
In 1993, the two worked together on the Broadway show Anna Christie, and just as with Mirren, it didn’t take long before they fell for each other.
The couple’s story began when the two performed opposite each other in Anna Christie on Broadway in 1993.
“I’d never had that kind of explosive chemistry situation with an actor or actress,” he said. “We just had this wonderful kind of dance-free dance on stage every night. She and I were like [Fred] Astaire and [Ginger] Rogers.”
Natasha was 29 at the time, and married to producer Robert Fox. That wasn’t enough to stop the romance from blossoming between her and Liam, though. Her marriage was falling apart, and at the same time, she “fell very much in love” with Liam.
Their chemistry was obvious for everyone present. Luckily for Liam, who was 40 at the time, Natasha’s marriage to Robert was already coming to an end.
When Natasha celebrated her 30th birthday, Liam decided to send her a card from the set of Schindler’s List.
”You’re catching up with me. Lots of love, Oskar.” (Liam played Oskar Schindler in the film.)
But Natasha didn’t find the message as romantic as intended. Instead, she decided it was time to be upfront.
She responded by saying: ”This is like a letter from a buddy. What is our relationship?”
Right then and there, Liam knew he had fallen in love with her.
”That was when I knew I really loved this person,” he said.
”I thought, ‘This is real and genuine and is something that has to be protected.’”
Not long after, in the summer of 1994, the two were married on a farm in upstate New York.
Had two sons together
In 2018, the 63-year-old Taken actor recently appeared on My Favorite Song with John Benjamin Hickey on SiriusXM channel, when he recalled a super sweet moment from his 1994 wedding to Richardson.
Neeson revealed that their wedding song was Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”
They had two sons together: Michael born in 1995, followed by Daniel in 1996.
Tragically, Natasha passed away in 2009 at age 45, following a skiing accident in Quebec.
Natasha was taking private skiing lessons in the Mont Tremblant resort when she fell on a beginner’s slope. As Richardson was skiing near Montreal, she fell and took a blow to the head. She was not wearing a helmet.
In the beginning, no one, including Richardson, thought it was severe.
The actress felt okay and against her instructor’s will, she decided to go ahead with her skiing lesson. After a while, the instructor called a ski patrol and wanted medical assistance and an ambulance. But Natalie refused.
However, Natalie and the ski instructor returned to her luxurious Hotel Quintessence room and did checkups to ensure she was okay.
Later, it was revealed that the paramedics who came to the room were turned away. They again recommended she should be seen by a doctor.
Approximately an hour after the incident Mrs. Richardson was not feeling good. An ambulance was called and Mrs. Richardson was brought to the Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Ste-Agathe and was later transferred to Hôpital du Sacre-Coeur”.
It turned out that she had suffered serious trauma and it turned out that the impact had left her brain “squashed up against the sided of her skull.”
“I was told she was brain dead. She was on life support and stuff,” Neeson recalled. “And I went in… and told her I loved her. I said, ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this. You’ve banged your head. It’s – I don’t know if you can hear me, but that’s – this is what’s gone down.’”
In the end, Neeson understood that he had to remove her from life support. On 60 Minutes, he explained that the two had “made a pact” that if either one of them got into a “vegetative state,” they were to “pull the plug.”
Natasha passed away on March 18, 2009. But one comforting thing for Neeson was finding her wife’s organ donor status. He said that her heart, liver, and kidneys went to people in need.
For five years following her tragic death, grief-stricken Liam kept silent, finally opening up in a 2014 episode of 60 Minutes.
”I went in to her and I told her I loved her…”
He went on to tell Anderson Cooper that he hadn’t understood the seriousness of Natasha’s accident.
Liam recalled arriving at the hospital. ”She was on life support”, he said.
At the hospital, Liam was shown Natasha’s X-rays.
Doctors told him that his wife was alive, but was considered to be in a vegetative state. She would never recover, according to the medical professionals.
”I’ve taken a tumble in the snow..”
”I spoke to her and she said, “Oh darling. I’ve taken a tumble in the snow.”
‘That’s how she described it.”
It’s heartbreaking to hear him describe their final moments together.
”I went in to her and told her I loved her. Said, ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this. You’ve banged your head. It’s – I don’t know if you can hear me, but that’s – this is what’s gone down. And we’re bringing ya back to New York. All your family and friends will come”, he said.
And five years after she passed away, Liam was understandably still struggling to come to terms with his loss.
In an interview with Loaded magazine, he said: ”Her death was never real. It still kind of isn’t.”
Looking back at their marriage, one of Liam says one of his favorite things about Natasha was her generous and infectious maternal love.
“She cared for everybody,” he said. “She has a motherly instinct. And she’d make dinners for everyone and just looked looked after us all.”
The couple had consented to be organ donors, and Liam saw that promise through after Natasha’s death.
With her passing, Natasha gave life to three people, even though she left three family members behind whose lives would never be the same again.
”Life is very short”
Now, each year, as their wedding anniversary rolls around, Liam remembers the love they shared.
In 2016, Liam shared a message with fans on social media remembering his late wife. He advised everyone to cherish their partners and make the most of each and every day together.
”We have to stop and be thankful for our spouses. Because, life is very short. Spend time with your spouses. Treat them well. Because, one day, when you look up from your phone, they won’t be there anymore. Live and love (every day) like it’s your last. Because, one day, it will be. Take chances and go live life. Tell the ones you love, that you love them every day.”
Liam could not underline enough that people should not take any moment for granted. “Life is worth living,” he said.
Very true, Liam. Very true indeed.
What beautiful memories he has to cling to, and wonderful life instructions for the rest of us to remember and guide us through our own lives!