In a bonus episode released Friday on Facebook Watch, cohosts Gloria Estefan, daughter Emily, niece Lili and sister Rebecca continued their conversation about losing a loved one by inviting Mauser via Zoom to remember his wife, reflect on the grief process and reveal how he's keeping her memory alive.
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"We connected right off the bat, I knew she was the one and it just grew from there," he said of his wife, calling her an "incredible human being" who had "all the qualities I was looking for in a person to share your life with."
The two met at a club where he was playing in a band and were engaged just three months later. Eight months after that, the two were married and eventually welcomed three children; Penny, Thomas and Ivy.
"I had been traveling, so I didn't get to see her all that much the last month," he said of the time leading up to her death. "At one point, we were sitting on the couch after the kids had gone to bed ... I remember just looking at her and saying to her, I just want you to know how proud I am of you.'"
"She was was becoming the person she was meant to be," he continued. "She had always supported me ... this was the first time in our lives I had the opportunity to really support her."
He said he's still haunted with regrets, from things he wishes he told her to the one thing he wishes he did the day of her death.
"The morning she passed, I was sleeping, I had a late night the night before, I'd come home and my daughter was laying on her chest. They were snuggling, I was so tired, I went to sleep," he recalled. "She woke up to go to work, she came back to kiss me and I didn't wake up and I regret not waking up. Little things you replay in your mind that you wish you would have said, wish you would have done."
Mauser explained that his emotions have been a "roller coaster ride" in the months since, and he's had days where he hasn't "been able to get up off the floor."
"My darkest day, I just hid in the closet and held her dresses," he explained. "You have those moments. I was taught, when things get really tough, just find peace. The day I had to tell my children that their mom died, I took a deep breath and sat there and pulled them in. I haven't been afraid to cry in front of my kids, I can't help it. There are days I break down in front of the kids."
Fellow guest and grief expert David Kessler chimed in, telling Mauser that's exactly what he should be doing. "Your kids need to see you do two things: They need to see you grieving and they need to see you living," he told him. "They need both."
His wife's death has left Mauser with a lot of guilt as well, as he struggles with how to move on.
"I feel guilty that she's not here and part of me wants to move on, whether it's to find someone else eventually in my life, that's something I don't know if I'm ready for," he wondered. "What if I am and I'm replacing my children's' mother with somebody else?"
"You are never moving on," Kessler told him. "You're moving forward with your wife's love. A part of your wife lives on in you."
Mauser explained he and his wife even had conversations about how to move forward should one of them die and knows she would tell him it was okay to go on.
"I told her, don't grieve me, the one thing you can do for me is to be happy," he said. "I want my kids happy, I want my wife happy, remember me, honor me, and I think that's what she said as well. It's just hard."
He went on to thank the many people in his family and community he's been able to turn to for help, especially raising two daughters on his own. He also said he hopes to keep Christina's memory alive with The Christina Mauser Foundation, which supports single moms, women and girls in sports through scholarships.