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People Top 5
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- May 25, 2009
- Vol. 71
- No. 20
Jai Pausch Life After Randy
Almost a Year After Randy Pausch's Death, His Widow Opens Up About Her Loss—and How She's Rebuilding Her Life with Their Three Children
Not without a struggle: Still fresh in her memory is the excruciating moment on July 25, 2008, when she broke the devastating news to the children—Dylan, then 6, Logan, 3, and Chloe, just a baby. "I said, 'Daddy didn't want to die; he loved you very much,'" Jai recalls. "It was awful." Their reactions were heart-wrenching. "Dylan said, 'Well, I'm the next to die in the family,'" Jai recalls. "I had to reassure him, 'You're not gonna die.'"
At first she made a daily habit of watching Randy's lecture about his childhood dreams and what he'd learned about life. "I needed to see him, watch him move, hear his voice," says Jai, who was earning her master's in comparative literature when she met Randy, a guest lecturer, at the University of North Carolina in 1998. "But it was like tearing the scab off every time. I had to stop doing it." These days she channels her energy into fixing up their Virginia home, where they moved shortly before Randy's death to be closer to her family. "I've ripped out the vanity, wallpapered—I need something to squirt me in the face," she says with a chuckle. "When I'm depressed, I've found plumbing really works for me."
Her greatest joy is watching her children march forward, as children do. "They've been so resilient," says Jai of Dylan, a budding scientist; Logan, now 4, a Batman enthusiast; and the proudly toilet-trained Chloe, 3. Recently, with Jai's help, they planted a garden. "Jai's doing what Randy knew she'd do: raise them right," says Randy's coauthor, Jeff Zaslow. "She's one of the strongest women I know."
And one of the busiest. Despite her hectic schedule, she has recently taken up tennis—"I have to be engaged, so I can't think about making dinner or the anniversary of Randy's death"—and has started making new friends. Some years from now, when the kids are ready, she'll show them the lecture. "It's Randy in a bottle," she says. "They'll get to see their father at his finest. That's a wonderful gift."
I think of what we could have had and wish it would have been —JAI PAUSCH
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