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Carole Radziwill Reflects on the 20-Year Anniversary of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's Deaths

The Real Housewives of New York City alum revealed the last conversation she had with her close friend Carolyn.

By Hannah Fusaro
Carole Radziwill

Carole Radziwill has spoken of her late friends and relatives, John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, often. JFK Jr. was her late husband Anthony Radziwill's cousin and Anthony died after a long cancer battle three weeks after JFK Jr., Carolyn, and Carolyn's sister, Lauren Bessette, died in a plane crash. Their deaths were the inspiration behind Carole's 2005 novel What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love.

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Today, July 16, 2019, is the 20-year anniversary of JFK Jr and Carolyn's deaths. Carole penned an essay for the Daily Mail reflecting on that day 20 years ago, which kicked off a month of four losses in total for The Real Housewives of New York City alum.

"On that day, just before midnight, a small plane went into the ocean and three people died. They were all close to me. At the time, my lifeline. My husband's cousin, John Kennedy; his wife, Carolyn, my closest friend, and her older sister Lauren Bessette. I lost everything that night, I wasn't the only one," Carole wrote. "It was a simple accident. A single engine plane fell out of the sky into the ocean. The pilot was my husband's cousin, John Kennedy, his passengers were his wife Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren. Three young, bright, people with promising futures. Less than a month later, my husband Anthony died, too."

Carole also highlighted how young the four of them were, dying in their 30s. "All four of them gone when they were just beginning to form lives. At an age when people lock in careers or start families, find their faith, their purpose, their bliss. Gone when all those life markers were still sorting out. The pain of losing them, once so acute it was unbearable, has eroded over time. Somewhere along the way their deaths became a thing I am able to live with. They inhabit my memory as their forever 30-something selves, while I turned 40 and then 50 and now 55."

The former RHONY  'Wife reflected on her decision to leave ABC News, move abroad, and try out reality TV, while her lost loved ones remained forever frozen in time. "Nothing has changed and everything has. I left a career to start a new one, and then another. I found new friends, lost others, moved across the country, across the ocean, had crushes, love, and petty feuds. They still hold court in a nostalgic back room where they haven't seen any of it. No milestones, no soft jokes about the inevitable slights of age."

Carole also revealed the last conversation she had with Carolyn. "Frozen in mid-conversation, we had the luxury, the last time we spoke, of talking about what we might have for dinner Sunday. It was a quick call. John was preparing to take off from a small private airport.  Anthony and I would see them, in their house on the Vineyard where we were staying, in 48 hours. The plan, for July 18, was grilled steaks and peach pie."

She concluded: "Lives, and promise, cut short. All of them in three cruel weeks. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Lauren Bessette. And my husband, Anthony Stanislas Albert Radziwill. For all the time I'd had to brace myself, prepare for it, Anthony's death, too, still seemed so abrupt and unfair, just like the others. Because ... we just weren't done."

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