Brittany Maynard to her husband: 'My heart is so full of love for you'

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By Bill Briggs

Away from the campaign, the critics and the cancer, the love story of Brittany Maynard and Dan Diaz seems only to blaze more brightly as her final day looms closer. 

In her public statements, Maynard, 29, has called Diaz, 43, “a hero.” In social-media posts, she calls him “Babe,” describes him as “a rock.”

And as she planned to purposely end her life — tentatively on Saturday — to spare herself and her family from the final stages of her terminal brain tumor, Maynard made sure to set that date six days after Diaz’s birthday, telling NBC News “it’s very important to me that I live to celebrate” that moment. (If she feels well come Saturday, she has said she will postpone the end of her life a bit longer). 

But perhaps Maynard’s most telling words about her marriage are offered in a new video, posted Wednesday night, during which she tearfully describes her hopes for Diaz’s life after her death.

“My husband is such a lovely man, I want him to — you know, I understand everyone needs to grieve ­—but I want him to be happy, so I want him to have a family,” she says in the latest video, recorded Oct. 13 and 14 with the help of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit working to expand end-of-life options. 

“I know that might sound weird," she adds. "But there’s no part of me that wants him to live out the rest of his life just missing his wife. So I hope he moves on and becomes a father.”

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As Maynard says the word “father,” her voice catches. She nods silently then shuts her eyes, ready to cry again.

She has a sacred reason for uttering that sentence and for barely being able to get it out before breaking down. 

Before she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January —15 months after her marriage —Maynard and Diaz were actively trying to have a family. Her disease’s interruption of that life plan, she often has said, “is heartbreaking for us.”

They originally met via, according to California magazine, a publication of the University of California, Berkeley, where they both had earned degrees, years apart. 

Diaz’s brother, Adrian, told the magazine that Dan, a market researcher for Del Monte Foods, needed a bit of time before he came to grasp that he had finally met and was dating the love of his life.

“I am so lucky to have known the love of an amazing husband,” Maynard posted on her website, The Brittany Maynard Fund. “No husband should be a widow at 43.”

After learning in April that her time was especially short —about six months —the couple moved from the San Francisco Bay area to a rented house in Portland, Oregon, one of five states where aid-in-dying is legal. Then, they urgently tried to pack a lifetime of special memories into what they knew would be an abbreviated marriage: dinners out, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, dog walking, and a recent trip to the Grand Canyon.

“It sounds so cliché: 'We take things one day at a time,' but it’s like, that’s the only way to get through this,” Diaz says in the new video. “You take away all of the material stuff, all the nonsense that we all seem to latch onto as a society, and you realize that those moments are really what matter.”

One of the "most terrifying" moments of her decline, Maynard said, was regaining consciousness after a recent seizure, seeing her husband's face but finding herself temporarily unable to say his name. She recalls thinking: "I know this is my husband." 

Not long ago, Maynard posted a picture of the newlyweds kissing next to a garden of red, yellow and orange flowers, beneath a blue California sky. It had been snapped the morning after their wedding.

“I love you babe & cheers to us just celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and in the face of so much pain this past year and all of our enormous challenges with my illness," she wrote beneath the image. "... still my heart is so full of love for you, my dear husband."