More: This was in John’s family?
AY: Yes, but nobody told me that. John’s brother Tommy was saved from John’s fate because we knew to look for him. He had an aortic aneurysm a couple years after John died, in the exact same place John had his. Luckily his brother’s condition was fixable because everyone knew what to look for. Thanks to all of this knowledge, there are so many other moms, dads, brothers and sisters we can save too.
More: This is your passion?
AY: This is my mission now. I read so many articles on the condition and found the top researcher on it. We now have the John Ritter Research Program at the University of Texas in Houston, and over 700 families in our study.
More: Has doing so much good work helped you heal from your own personal tragedy?
AY: Yes. Look, I know I can’t go back and save John. I have healed knowing that had John survived this, he would be doing exactly what I am doing. John would be getting the word out and getting people fixed. Sadly, I lost him because the hospital he was treated at did not have this condition in the front of their brain and treated him for a heart attack, which we know he did not have. John got the wrong treatment.
More: Do you encourage Stella to get involved in her dad’s charity?
AY: We are soon going to be selling art and donating the proceeds to the foundation. Stella is not only a great artist, she is a natural curator and can really spot good art. She will be great at helping me with that project. We also have 15 spots in the New York City Marathon this year. John’s son Tyler and his wife will be two of the people running in his dad’s honor.
More: How is Stella coping?
AY: At five you deal with it differently than you deal with it at ten and all of those stages in between. You need your father one way at five and a different way at an older age. Your relationship to the person changes, even though the person is not there anymore.
More: John passed away on Stella’s fifth birthday. How did you explain the unthinkable?
AY: You don’t. I can’t tell you [what was said] because that is not even in the book [Yasbeck's With Love and Laughter, John Ritter]. That is a war story between two comrades who lost their third one. That is something Stella and I have together and have kept secret.
More: How would you describe life as a single mom?
AY: I admire single parents greatly. It is harder than you think. Look, you don’t get to decide what happens to you in life. I still refer back to John and say, “What would John have done in a situation like this?” and I still take his cues. We really were a team and really helped each other.
More: Would you ever consider dating?
AY: I am dating.
More: I am listening . . .
AY: I have a very nice boyfriend. “Boyfriend” sounds so weird after you have been married. But it has been eight years since John died, and it was time to get back out there.
More: Are you happy?
AY: Yeah. It has been a little over a year now. Look, the day after John died I turned 41 years old. When you are turning 40 you tend to joke about becoming old. I became a widow. Let me tell you, 40 is too young to become a widow. “Widow” means a lot of different things.
More: What is your definition?
AY: My book, With Love and Laughter, John Ritter, gave an emotionally honest account of how we dealt with the shock and heartbreak of John’s loss.
More: Is Stella okay with you dating?
AY: Yes. She really likes my boyfriend. He is great. She is realistic. No one is moving in. He is just a boyfriend. He spends a lot of time with Stella and does not try to dad her. He has his own kids. I will say, it is cool to get his take on stuff.
More: Now you are starring in a new sitcom called Little Women Big Cars for the web. You are so 21st century.
Amy Yasbeck: What can I say, I'm a modern girl.