When Céline Dion exchanged wedding vows with her husband René Angélil 22 years ago, the award-winning singer had no idea how much the words “through sickness and in health” would come to mean in their marriage.
“When my husband was sick the first time, that [saying] was the first thing that came back to me,” Dion told PEOPLE about Angélil – who died Thursday from ongoing health issues – in an exclusive interview and what would be their final magazine photoshoot early last year. “I want to believe that I’m the best for him and caring for him.”
“I am scared of losing him because it’s bad,” she continued. “But I have to show myself, my husband and my kids that I’m strong and we’re okay.”
The music manager, 73, was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999, and Dion, 47, retired for two years to help care for him.
In late 2013, Angélil underwent a procedure to remove a tumour from his throat. Dion postponed her Las Vegas residency, an Asia tour and other business activities to “devote every ounce of strength and energy to my husband’s healing,” she told PEOPLE at the time.
Posing for a shoot with her husband in March last year, just before returning to the Coliseum stage, Dion opened up about how Angélil’s health issues solidified their marriage.
“It made us stronger,” she said. “He wants me to fly. He wants me to go. But at the same time, he needs me so much, and I want to take care of him. When I stopped [performing], I wanted to be a wife and a mother.”
The couple also put up a united front for their three children – René-Charles, 15, and 5-year-old twins Eddy and Nelson (Angélil has three other children from two previous marriages).
“Music is my passion. My family and my kids and my husband are my life,” she said. “Sickness is tough. It’s not something you choose, you know? But once you have time to plan, see what’s happening, and understand what’s happening, you live every day to the fullest. We don’t know what the future will bring and how long and far it will take us, so we decided to get the ticket to ride and go for it.”
Celine Dion’s brother Daniel dies two days after her husband.
The older brother of Canadian singer Celine Dion has died of cancer, two days after her husband also died.
Daniel Dion, 59, died on Saturday near Montreal, a statement by the singer’s spokeswoman said.
Ms Dion’s family paid tribute to the father-of-two, calling him “a gentle and reserved man of many talents”.
Her husband and former manager, Rene Angelil, died on Thursday aged 73. His death in Las Vegas came after two bouts with throat cancer.
Daniel Dion was the eighth of 14 children, and performed with his siblings in their parents’ piano bar in Quebec province.
He had been suffering cancer of the throat, tongue and brain, his sister Claudette told the Journal de Montreal newspaper (in French).
“He was ready, and isn’t suffering any more,” she said. “He was at peace.”
The funeral of Mr Angelil, who helped to launch Celine Dion’s career, will be held on Friday in the Notre Dame basilica in Montreal, where the couple married.
Dion recorded 25 studio albums and is the fifth-best-paid recording artist in the world, with a value of some $630m (£437m).
In 1999, her song My Heart Will Go On, from the soundtrack of the film Titanic, won two Grammy awards.