Corrections & clarifications: A photo caption in a previous version of this report misidentified Amanda Kloots’ sister. Her name is Anna Kloots.
Even a year after trauma, Amanda Kloots says her grief doesn't have a schedule.
"It doesn't choose a day or time. It comes in a wave and crashes over you and then goes away again instantly," the fitness entrepreneur and talk show host said over video chat. "It's still this emotional roller coaster of never really knowing how to mend the hole that's a part of your heart now."
But just two weeks after her husband Nick Cordero died from severe COVID-19 complications, Kloots says she did one of the best things to do after a traumatic experience, according to her friend who's studying to be a therapist. She started writing it down, launching the beginnings of her book, "Live Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero" (Harper, 336 pp., out Tuesday).
"It was, to myself, admitting what had happened for the first time," Kloots said. "When Nick first passed, it felt like the hospital just wouldn't let me go visit him again. I was stuck in that pattern again that he was still there."
People all over the world rallied behind Cordero from late March until his death on July 5, 2020, regularly tuning into Kloots' Instagram account, where she offered emotional updates on his recovery. The Tony-nominated actor faced several complications during his 13 weeks at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, including a leg amputation, lung infections and the insertion of a temporary pacemaker.
But in Kloots' book, her husband's supporters will finally learn the whole story, she says – including details too difficult to share publicly at the time.
"Nick's actual passing is something I never even talked about on Instagram," she says. "I was just sobbing so hard I couldn't even see the keyboard. It was like I was trying to type in a waterfall."
Kloots didn't take on the emotional task of writing this book alone. She had the help of her sister and co-author Anna.
Though Kloots lives in Los Angeles and Anna in Paris, the nine-hour time difference came in handy. Before going to bed, Kloots would pass off writing duties to her sister, who would just be starting her morning. They had a first draft done in six months.
"I would usually text her and say, 'I was sobbing. I can't believe this happened,'" Kloots said. "And she would write back, 'I cried myself to sleep too, Mandy.'"
Anna flew to Los Angeles at the end of the year to be with Kloots as they finished the heart-wrenching final chapters. During this time, Kloots appeared frequently as a guest host on "The Talk," while CBS higher-ups deliberated making her a more permanent fixture on the show.
It was a "crazy time," Kloots said, but worth it. She officially joined "The Talk" as a mainstay host in January.
"If you look back at those early guest cohosting days, I pretty much have a breakdown every time I'm on set," Kloots said with a laugh. "But, you know, that's me. And if you followed this story, you know I'm not afraid to cry on social media or national television."
Now Kloots spends her days hosting "The Talk" and raising Elvis, her 2-year-old son with Cordero. The past year hasn't been easy, but she's still found joy in unexpected places. Just a few weeks ago, she felt something many people may relate to after a year of pandemic life: the fear she forgot how to have fun.
To combat this worry, Kloots, who danced on Broadway and with the Rockettes, explored CBS' studio lot and found a quiet outdoor set designed like a New York City street – the perfect place to blast some music and find her rhythm. The impromptu dance party put a smile on her face, even though she was alone – or so she thought.
Later, Kloots did a guided meditation with a friend, who said she "felt Nick's energy so much" during the exercise and that her late husband was sending a message: a vision of his wife dancing on a street.
"There's no way she would know that. No way anyone would know this at all," Kloots said. "And it was literally my internal battle that I was having in my head about wanting to just dance and have fun, and then (Nick)'s sitting there going, 'Dance. Have fun. You need to do this.'"
It's this perspective – of finding silver linings, no matter how bleak the circumstances – that Kloots hopes readers take away from her and Cordero's story.
"You have to be so grateful for every day and every day that you have on this Earth," she said. "Life is so fragile and you never know. You could be walking one day, and then you could be not walking the next. And so you really have to remember to take every day for what it is and make it count."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amanda Kloots shares sign from late Nick Cordero, gets real on grief