"My Heart Is Broken," Cindy McCain on losing her husband of 38 years

“He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best,” Cindy McCain said in a tribute to her husband


                            "My Heart Is Broken," Cindy McCain on losing her husband of 38 years

Cindy McCain is mourning the death of Senator John McCain, her husband of 38 years. “My heart is broken,” tweeted Cindy, minutes after her family announced that the Arizona Republican senator died at the age of 81 on Saturday.

“I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years,” she continued. “He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.”

McCain, the celebrated war veteran, and outspoken Republican politician nicknamed "The Maverick" for being unafraid to disagree with fellow members of his party and rise above bipartisan politics, died Saturday night after his family announced the previous day they would be discontinuing treatment for the aggresive brain cancer he was diagnosed with last year.

McCain is survived by wife Cindy, and his children: Douglas, Andrew, and Sidney (all with first wife Carol McCain); and Meghan, Jack, James, and Bridget, with Cindy.



When McCain met the glamorous, 25-year-old heiress Cindy Lou Hensley at a cocktail party in Hawaii in 1979, he “by all accounts, fell instantly in love,” The Washington Post reported in 2008. He pursued her for months, flying back and forth from Washington to Arizona to see her.

McCain, then a 43-year-old naval attache, was still married to his first wife, former model Carol Shepp, with whom he shares three children (including a daughter, Sidney, and Carol’s two sons from a previous marriage, Douglas and Andrew, whom McCain adopted). McCain’s marriage had already been on the rocks, and he soon filed for divorce from Carol. He married Cindy on May 17, 1980, six weeks after his divorce from Carol was officially dissolved, according to the Post.

McCain described how he instantly fell for Cindy in an interview.

“Schmaltzy as it sounds, it was love at first sight,” McCain said during the interview with Larry King in 2002, where he described how he instantly fell for Cindy. He added that Cindy had “done very well” campaigning for him, but that “primarily, she’s been a mother” to their “four wonderful children,” Meghan McCain, John Sidney McCain IV, James McCain, Bridget McCain, whom the couple adopted from Bangladesh when she was three months old.

John and Cindy McCain in the year 2007, when McCain announced his second presidential run. (Image Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
John and Cindy McCain in the year 2007, when McCain announced his second presidential run. (Image Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The feeling was mutual for Cindy. In 2008, she confessed that both she and her future husband lied about their ages at first so as not to turn each other off. “He made himself younger, and I made myself older, of course,” Cindy once told Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show, as People magazine points out.

The truth about their 17-year age gap came out just before the couple’s 1980 wedding. “In Arizona when you apply for a marriage license, it’s published in the newspaper,” she told Seacrest. “Of course when they published the application, we both found out together our true ages.”

“It didn’t matter anyway,” she continued. “I felt like he wouldn’t be interested in someone as young as me – and he felt I wouldn’t be interested in someone that was older, like he was. So it was for true love that we did it. And it’s been a funny joke for our kids ever since.”



When the couple wed, McCain was still a Navy captain but soon decided to get into politics. “I thought I was going to have the life of a Navy wife, and won’t that be exciting?” Cindy said in a 2008 interview with People on then-presidential candidate McCain and his family. “But life hands you different things.” 

Despite the distance, the McCains have always been close-knit, with the patriarch enjoying a playful relationship with his children. “That’s just the way John is: The more he teases you, the more he loves you,” Cindy explained at the time.

Floods of tributes from the political world have poured in after the news of McCain's death surfaced, including a heartfelt statement from former president Barrack Obama.