Cindy McCain Reveals Last Moments With Late Husband John McCain

Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, wrote a moving essay about her late husband for Today's "Voices" series this week, reflecting on her final moments with him.

McCain discussed her partner of nearly four decades and how she will carry on without him in the years to come. She also wrote about the year leading up to his death and, most emotionally of all, her final moments wit him. Senator John McCain passed away in August, leaving a family and the whole country in mourning.

Senator McCain was sick for quite some time, and knew that his brain cancer was terminal for about a year before his death. Still, he refused to stop working in whatever capacity he could. His wife wrote that, when his passing finally came, the lifelong civil servant seemed to be ready for it.

"When the end came, it came swiftly, as if he had taken the final measure of his situation and resolved to embrace it, give thanks and leap into the hereafter, like the daring aviator he had once been and the brave soul he had remained."

McCain even seemed to be able to look back fondly on her husband's final moments, joking that "he always drew a crowd." She wrote that he was surrounded by family and friends.

"He faced the creek he loved," she continued. "A black hawk swooped low overhead and settled on the branch of a cottonwood to keep watch. Sinatra on his playlist, singing 'My Way.' Goodbye."

While that was the end for her husband, McCain noted that it was not the end for his family, or his country. What followed was a tour of memorials and services, mourning all across the country until he could be laid to rest near the nation's capitol.

"Then up our hill at sunset," she recalled. "A crowd waiting, as crowds would gather everywhere he traveled the next week, saluting, hands on hearts, waving flags. Services rendered with the messages and music, the friends and ceremony he had requested."

As for her final goodbye to the senator's remains, McCain said little. She wrote that it was "more personal" than the massive funeral — "a naval officer’s, a husband’s and father’s farewell on the banks of the Severn River in Maryland."


As for her life now, McCain admitted that it is "not an easy adjustment." However, she said that her husband left her with "instructions."

"'Don't slack off. You know what to do,'" she recalled him saying. "Stay busy, serve causes greater than ourselves, stay in the arena, pick fights with the bad guys, and keep faith with the little guys. Remember, as he remembered, that the bell tolls for us, and to make our life as useful to others as it is to us."