To watch his father whom he loved so dearly, breathe his last right in front of him is a memory Bradley Cooper will remember for a long time. While it remains to be one of the most heart-wrenching moments of his life, he also calls it a gift that his father gave him. “My family is very close, and my dad dying was brutal for all of us. It was a schism, and its aftershock has not stopped,” he told Details magazine a couple of years after his father’s death, as reported by Los Angeles Times.
It wasn’t just during his final moments that Cooper was by his father’s side. The actor had been taking care of his father, Charles as he battled for life against lung cancer. “I was in a very lucky position because I was able to put everything on hold in all aspects of my life and completely focus on taking care of him,” the actor said the launch of the Parker Foundation’s Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, according to Today.
In 2011, after his last day of filming The Hangover Part II, Cooper flew back home to be with his father and even took him to an Eagles game, as reported by The New York Times. About two weeks later, he had his arms wrapped around his father, experiencing a moment that went on to change his entire life.
When he spoke in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, according to USA Today, he said, “It was everything. It was the biggest gift he gave me – the second biggest gift. [The first was] having me and bringing me into this life and [then] him allowing me to be witness to his passing was equally as huge. It really honestly felt like – he was cradled, his head was right here – and when he took the last breath I honestly felt like it went into me, and I’ve never seen anything the same since.”
Bradley Cooper’s father has left behind a number of things for him to live by, including his faith. “I loved the way he prayed, so I would pray like he would,” he said in an interview, published by thefashionisto.com. “Not for any other reason than I wanted to be like my father–I wanted to be like Charlie Cooper. But in so doing, through the ritual of it, I started to have faith in God.”
What came with the death of his father was not only grief but also a new perspective on life that took over him. “It’s a new reality,” he said. “Everything, everything. It’s not even one thing, it’s a whole new world. And it was instantaneous. It wasn’t like, months later. It was like, his last exhale, and I was holding him, and it was like, everything changed.”
He no longer worried about things that don’t matter and said, “I stopped sweating stuff that I was sweating before that. It changed the way I was as an actor by, like, the next day, and I just started to live my life in a different way.”
To have his father die in his arms reminded him of the realities of mortality. But it didn’t weaken his spirit, it only made him stronger. “I remember that moment and I looked up and I thought everything was different,” he said. “[I became] stronger, more open, more willing to fail because of him… The reality of mortality hits you like a ton of bricks.”
The memory of his father is always something he cherishes and he is reminded of his presence regularly. He told NPR, “My dad works his way into my life every day. Luckily, thank God, I still dream about him. He comes into my dreams.”
He also added, “I cherish them. I love when he’s in my dreams. In the beginning he was very sick in my dreams, and now in my dreams he’s healthy.”
The star also finds his own daughter giving him constant reminders of his father and said, “Our daughter, she’s incredible. I see my father in her quite often. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I had moments when … I was just in the room with her I would just say ‘Dad?'”
When Cooper looks back at his times with his father, he will see that his father impacted him so much throughout his entire life, and changed his perspective even when he took his final breath.