Céline Dion held back her tears while saying goodbye to husband René Angélil, a final show of strength to ensure the 73-year-old peace in death.
The Canadian singer tells WHO that after a sweet phone call and last exchange of "I love yous," she awoke on Jan. 14 to learn that Angélil, who was being cared for by medical staff at their Las Vegas home, had lost his battle with cancer.
After Angélil's nurse called her to his bedside, Dion says, "I closed the door, so the children wouldn't sense anything."
"I got on my knees and I kissed him," she explains. "It was the coldest thing I've ever experienced in my life, but it was amazing. I said, 'Promise me not to worry. I'm fine, the kids are great, we're gonna be okay. It's enough suffering. Just go in peace.' "
It was later that Dion, 48, got emotional, crying as her beloved husband's body was removed from their home.
"When they took him away, I chased the truck a little, like it was my kids going to school for the first day," she says.
Dion was performing as part of her residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace the night before Angélil's death. Right before leaving for the stage, she got a call from the then-73-year-old. "He said, 'I wish you a great show, and I love you,' " Dion tells WHO.
Later that evening, when Dion returned home, Angélil was asleep. "I didn't want to wake him," she says. "I should have gone and said, 'I love you and I'm here,' but I don't want to live with that regret. I meant well by not waking him."
Angélil had three separate bouts of cancer, first diagnosed in 1999. He and Dion – who returns to her Caesars Palace shows Tuesday before setting off on a European tour this summer and back in Vegas in September – shared three children, twins Nelson and Eddy Angélil, 5½, and 15-year-old René-Charles Angélil.