Still healing. Ray Liotta‘s fiancée, Jay Nittoloreflected on the first anniversary of the actor’s death in an emotional tribute.
“A year ago today I was on a flight home from the Dominican Republic by myself in shock,” she wrote via Instagram on Friday, May 26, alongside several photos of herself and the late Goodfellas star from throughout their romance. “My entire world unexpectedly turned upside down.”
The hairstylist continued: “I’ll never forget the beautiful woman, a complete stranger, who sat next to me and didn’t say a word. She gently grabbed and held my hand the entire flight as I cried and looked out the window. When we landed she looked at me and said everything is going to be ok. Your [sic] going to be ok.”
Nittolo recalled meeting up with Liotta’s sister en route to Los Angeles. “I don’t know what I would have done without Linda that night,” she added. “It’s been a heavy year of pain, heartache, healing, growing and accepting what is.”
One year into her grief journey, Nittolo is “learning to smile at what was.” She wrote: “It supposedly gets easier with time. No time will change a loss so great. You just learn to live with it and keep going, trusting that all will be ok.”
The cosmetologist went on to thank Liotta’s daughter Karsen, 24, and more of his loved ones for helping to “keep me going every single day” as they mourn together. “20 years ago today of all days my grandmother passed away,” Nittolo concluded. “She helped raise me. She was the other love of my life and one of my favorites of all time. Both on 5/26 ❤️❤️.”
News broke in May 2022 that the Field of Dreams actor died at age 67 while working on a movie in the Dominican Republic. At the time, Nittolo reflected on the pair’s “magical” relationship in a social media tribute.
“Ray and I share a deep love that I will cherish in my heart forever. We laughed daily and we were inseparable,” she wrote. “The chemistry was wild in the best way. He was everything in the world to me and we couldn’t get enough of each other. The kind of real love that one dreams of.”
The twosome announced their engagement in December 2020. Liotta was previously married to Michelle GraceKarsen’s mother, from 1997 to 2004.
Earlier this year, Karsen honored her late father at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, where he received a posthumous star. She was joined by Nittolo for the special occasion.
“I’m so touched to be accepting this honor on behalf of my dad,” Karsen said in February. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He was a one-of-a-kind actor and the best friend, brother and father anyone could have asked for. … If you have a Ray in your life, you’re lucky.”
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Three months later, the Cocaine Bear star’s official cause of death was revealed. Liotta’s death was categorized as “natural and nonviolent,” with TMZ reporting that he died from heart and respiratory issues.