Patrick Swayze's Widow: "I Feel Every Contour of His Hand in Mine"

Celebrity News Oct. 30, 2009 AT 11:50AM
Patrick Swayze's Widow: "I Feel Every Contour of His Hand in Mine" Credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage.com

On The Oprah Winfrey Show Friday, Patrick Swayze's widow Lisa Niemi spoke candidly about losing her husband just six weeks ago to pancreatic cancer.

She told Winfrey that Swayze initially was given around three months to live when he was first diagnosed two years ago.

He managed fight the disease for 22 months.

"When we first had the diagnosis, I cried in front of him," she told Winfrey, according to Entertainment Tonight, which has posted an excerpt of the interview. "I said, 'This is the one time I'm going to do this...'

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"When he looked at me and looked in my eyes, I wanted him to know he was going to be OK, no matter what," she continued. "Both of us had to deal with this illness, but he's the one that was going to pay the ultimate price."

When he passed away on Sept. 14 at age 57, he was "very comfortable," she said, noting that she was by his side the entire time. "I was afraid to leave his side, and luckily I was so happy I was there," she told Winfrey.

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Since his passing, she said she still feels him around her.

"I could so easily feel every contour of his hand in mine," she said.

Asked if Swayze believed in life after death, Niemi said he "had this very realistic side, where he said, 'I can't be 100 percent sure, but I'm gonna find out.'"

Niemi told Winfrey she has learned a lot from losing her husband. "You end up living a lot more in the moment...," she said. "You realize that we don't have anybody for long, and we don't even have our own lives for long."

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Added Niemi (who was married to the actor for 34 years): "I've been really blessed to have a man who always believed in me and who thought I was smart and beautiful and good ... and I hope I can continue to prove him right, that he was right about me."

Earlier this week, Niemi spoke at the Women's Conference 2009, hosted by Maria Shriver and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Long Beach, Calif.

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During a roundtable discussion on Grief, Healing and Resilience, she said she was relying on friends to get her though this difficult time.

"I have a few girlfriends that are just amazing. They have made themselves available to me 24/7. They say, 'We don't care if it's 2 in the morning, call me'," she said. "I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack one evening ... and I picked up the phone and called one, which is really hard for me to do because I'm used to being so self-sufficient and taking care of myself, but the very act of picking the phone up to call someone helped to calm me."

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