The Last Thing Jackie Said To JFK Before He Died

As the presidential motorcade slowly made its way through downtown Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Jackie Kennedy sat next to her husband, President John F. Kennedy. She was wearing a pink Chanel suit with a matching pillbox hat and white gloves. She cradled a bouquet of red roses she'd recently been given by well-wishers as she smiled and waved. Suddenly, her husband had a quizzical look on his face. "He looked puzzled," she later recounted (via "These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie"). "I remember he looked as if he had a slight headache."

In the ensuing moments that were seared into Jackie's memory forever, two more shots rang out, and their dark blue 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible began to race past the confused onlookers who lined the motorcade route. "I have his brains ... in my hands," Jackie screamed, staring blankly into space. As the car continued onto Stemmons Freeway to Parkland Memorial Hospital, Jackie tried to hold her husband's head together. She leaned down close to him, blood and brains leaking onto her lap, and whispered "Jack, Jack, Jack. Can you hear me? I love you, Jack," according to "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy." It was the last thing she said to her husband who was barely alive, breathing raggedly, his pulse barely perceptible. Seven minutes later they were at Parkland Hospital and he was still alive, but a half hour later doctors declared him dead.

Jackie recalls her last moments with JFK

A few days after the assassination, Jackie Kennedy spoke to Theodore H. White for a Life magazine story. White was a journalist and historian who received a Pulitzer Prize the year before for his coverage of the 1960 presidential election that JFK had won. Though the interview started out haltingly, Jackie suddenly rushed headlong into her memories of that horrific day in Dallas. She stared into space as she recounted the gruesome story. White said that "it was all told tearlessly, her wide eyes not even seeing me, a recitative to herself," according to "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story."

She recalled initially thinking that the gunshots were the sound of an engine backfiring, but then she looked at her husband. "Jack turned back so neatly — his last expression was so neat," she told White, per "The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets." "I could see a piece of his skull coming off. It was flesh-colored, not white. He was holding out his hand and I could see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from his head. Then he slumped in my lap." An incident that Jackie had no memory of occurred just seconds after the shots rang out. At one point, she had lunged toward the back of the convertible in what many thought was an attempt to jump out of the vehicle. In truth, she was trying to retrieve a piece of her husband's skull that had landed on the car's trunk, per "These Few Precious Days."


When the motorcade arrived at the hospital, Jackie Kennedy refused to leave her husband's side. His body lay on a stretcher, with one foot — whiter than the sheet covering him — sticking out. Jackie went over and kissed his foot. She pulled back the sheet and looked at her dead husband. "His mouth was so beautiful," she recalled, per "The Kennedy Men." "His eyes were open." She again kissed his foot and worked her way up his body — his thigh and chest, and finally, his lips, per "These Few Precious Days." She held his hand while a Catholic priest gave him Last Rites. Hours later, a dazed Jackie was on Air Force One still wearing her blood-splattered outfit at the swearing-in of Lyndon B. Johnson as the next president. Her husband's body, now in a bronze coffin, was also onboard.

On November 24, the day JFK's body was to lay in state, Jackie and Robert F. Kennedy, JFK's brother, went to the East Room in the White House to say one final goodbye before the casket lid was shut for the last time, per Town & Country. She snipped off a few locks of her dead husband's hair as she wept. Jackie moved to New York City and married the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis in 1968. After his death in 1975, she became an editor at the book publisher Doubleday until her death in 1994 from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She had wanted to live a life away from public view, something she was never able to achieve.