Celine Dion Opens Up About the Night Rene Angelil Died: ‘He Wanted to Die in My Arms’

The night her whole life changed. Céline Dion opened up about the night of January 14, when her husband of 21 years, René Angélil, passed away at age 73 after a long battle with throat cancer.

“René wanted to die in my arms,” Dion, 48, revealed, but she was performing that night and Angélil passed away after falling out bed. “He must have wanted to get up and he fell on the floor,” she told Paris Match magazine in a candid interview.

“Normally, after my show when he had taken his last medications, I gave him a kiss, tucked him in and sent him off to sleep. That evening I didn’t want to wake him. It was the nurse who found him the next day. Distraught, she came to find me,” she recalled in French.

Celine Dion and husband Rene Angelil arrives at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Celine Dion and husband Rene Angelil arrives at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Evan Agostini/Getty Images

A doctor confirmed that Angélil had suffered no broken bones, fractures or blood clots from the fall, and Dion felt at peace that he wasn’t suffering anymore. “My mourning began when the disease took hold,” she said. “I became fully responsible for his life, even in the most intimate moments.”

The iconic French-Canadian songstress also talked about staying strong for her three children — son René-Charles, 15, and 5-year-old twin sons, Eddy and Nelson. “I was on stage a month after the death of René. I wanted to show my children that they could count on me,” she said.

Now, the “My Heart Will Go On” singer makes sure her kids’ lives are filled with activities from gymnastics to piano — and they even have a special way to communicate with their late father. “Sometimes we send balloons with messages for dad,” she told Paris Match. Dion previously said that she used the Disney movie Up to explain her husband’s death to the twins.

Celine Dion, recipient of the Billboard Icon Award, and son Rene-Charles Angelil attend the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.
Celine Dion, recipient of the Billboard Icon Award, and son Rene-Charles Angelil attend the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. Denise Truscello/BBMA2016/Getty Images for dcp

She also talked with Paris Match about son René-Charles, who recently surprised her on stage (looking so grown up!) in an emotional moment at the Billboard Music Awards. She explained that he’s a “good student” and he takes online courses at home for three or four hours a day so he can go at his own pace. “Thanks to sports, especially golf and hockey, he has many friends, invites them home for sleepovers, poker parties or video games,” she said. “He’s a good boy. I’m not worried."

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