Celine Dion reveals all about her grief after the death of her husband in her first UK interview for seven years . The superstar talks to Bizarre's Dan Wootton ahead of her first European tour without the 'love of her life' by her side .
CELINE Dion cannot contemplate life without her late husband.
As far as she is concerned Rene Angelil, who died of throat cancer at 73 last year, is still with her at virtually every moment — when she’s on stage, when she’s making new music and, most importantly, when she’s with her three children.
“I think I will probably grieve for the rest of my life,” she says of her fellow Canadian, who was 26 years her senior.
But she adds with a hopeful smile: “Rene has prepared me for all my life since I’m 12.
“I have never met another man in my life, never kissed another man in my life.
“I miss him a lot. I miss him a lot — for my partner, for the man I was embracing, kissing, making love with. My worries, my dreams . . . ”
Yes, Celine, who turned 49 last month, is devastated. But there’s a power to the way she is so openly tackling her grief.
She says: “No one chooses to be sick.
“Life imposes for you to be sick and you have the option to be strong or not be strong.
“But to be surrounded by the right people helps a lot because, if you know you will die, make the best of it. “I proved to Rene that he was there for me and I’m going to be there for him — and I’m still there for him.”
Rene — Celine’s husband of 21 years — managed every aspect of her soaring career, which has seen the Because You Loved Me singer become the second highest-selling female artist of all time after Madonna, shifting 250million records.
Celine still relies on Rene’s advice, too, consulting with a portrait of him recently that was painted by a fan when she had to decide whether to record a new song for Disney’s hit Beauty And The Beast remake.
She recalls: “I went and found one of the paintings that one of the fans gave me of my husband and I said, ‘Should I do this?’
“And the answer I got back — I don’t want that to sound like ghostly or anything like that — but emotionally what I got back from that was, ‘You have nothing to lose’.”
It’s been seven years since Celine last gave an interview to a British newspaper and she admits she is “stressed” about her return to Europe this summer — her first tour without Rene by her side.
Celine, who has sons Rene-Charles, 16, and six-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy, explains: “Touring the world is a big deal when you have three kids and travelling becomes problematic, it’s scary sometimes. It becomes more complex, and the grieving.”
We meet last week at 11pm, backstage at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace hotel, Las Vegas, where she has just performed her 1,028th, incredible, emotion-filled show of her residency.
Celine made a triumphant return to Sin City — where she has become as successful as greats Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley — in 2015 after disappearing from the spotlight to nurse Rene.
Looking after him was nothing short of hellish for her, as she watched “the man who I love the most on this whole earth suffering so much”.
She explains: “He did suffer for three years. A lot.
“I took a year off and I said, ‘My living well is to be with you, it’s not my career. You are my career, you are my life’. “That’s what a wife does, that’s what a mother does, that’s what a performer does. I took care of him the best way I could.”
In the months before Rene’s death, Celine became a sponge, wanting to learn everything she could from the man who guided her showbiz life.
She says: “We talked a lot and I took notes every day. I had my Post-its and my crayons and my book, and everything he wanted or questioned, or he thought of, I wrote it down.”
They even planned together his very public funeral, which was held in January last year with an open casket at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica.
She says: “I reassured him it was going to be done his way — he chose the songs at his funeral, the way he wanted it, everything to a T. And I respected that.”
Celine pauses. Her eyes well up and turn to glass.
But she presses on to explain in heart-breaking detail his final days. “I put a bathrobe on top of him, night after night, when I left for the show.
"He gave me a teddy bear for St Valentine’s, so I cut the heart and I put it on him night after night for the remote control, his glasses, an earpiece.”
And recalling how she said goodbye, she adds: “So when he passed, I put the heart under his head and I said, ‘Listen to me, do you trust me? Do you believe me?’ And he was gone.
“When he passed, I stand by his side and I said, ‘You know what, it’s OK, you know you didn’t deserve to suffer that much. He was cold.
“I said, ‘It’s enough, it’s enough of suffering. You gave so much, you don’t deserve that’.
"I said, ‘I’m fine, the kids are fine, OK, everything is going to be OK. You taught me, you taught me well. I’m going to use it’.
“And that’s what I do every day — so Rene will never die.”
There is a deep sadness watching Celine sing lyrics to her famous song My Heart Will Go On — the theme to Titanic — which she admits now has a different meaning to her.
But when I ask if her heart will go on one day, by finding a new love, she shakes her head forcefully then says: “Now it is definitely too soon for me. I am definitely in love with him (Rene), married to him.
“He’s the love of my life. It’s very difficult for me to see myself with another person. The love that I have for him, I live it every day. And as a woman, we do have emotions and feelings that come and go. And it’s always with him.
“When I sing, it’s with him. When I hug my kids, it’s for him and it’s with him. I took time to grieve and I’m still grieving.”
TOMORROW: Celine Dion guest-edits Bizarre