Celine Dion has received a great deal of attention recently as she plans to resume her regular performances in Las Vegas later this week. Around this time last year, Dion announced a hiatus from her Vegas shows and cancellation of her tour of Asia to focus on caring for her husband and former manager, René Angélil.
Angélil was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999 and received news of its return in December of 2013. He has undergone a number of different surgeries and procedures, and earlier this year, Dion revealed in an interview that her husband was on a feeding tube.
“He can’t eat so I feed him,” Dion told ABC News’ Deborah Roberts back in March. “He’s got a feeding tube. I have to feed him three times a day.” The singer takes care of this task personally, sometimes with the help of her 4-year-old fraternal twins, Nelson and Eddy.
Dion confesses to not wanting to resume her performances initially, but Angélil insisted that his wife return to the stage to sing and do what she loves. She says that she tries to think of the experience as an opportunity for growth.
“People go through these things a lot around the world. You get to hear my story and my husband’s because we’re on TV, but people go through these stories the same—even worse—every day,” Dion tells USA TODAY.
She tries to be strong, but acknowledges that sometimes her husband “needs something more sensitive than that, more than just positivity. . . I’ll say, ‘You’re scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.’ ”
Dion exhibits an exceptional balance of strength and sensitivity. She says, “You can have your shaking knees at the end, but when someone you love falls and needs help, it’s not time to cry. Afterwards, sure. But not yet.”
According to the singer, doctors have been unable to give the family a general idea of how much time Angélil may have left. However, Dion admits to carefully taking notes during conversations in which her husband has expressed his wishes regarding his funeral service.
Dion’s realistic and heartfelt approach to caring for her husband is something to be admired. She has had a hands-on role in Angélil’s care and strives to consider his emotional needs and focus on ways to work through them together.
Grief can plague the “long goodbye” that Dion’s family is currently experiencing, but taking things as confidently as possible, one day at a time is sometimes the only option.
“When you see someone who is fighting so hard, it has a big impact on you,” Dion says. “You have two choices. You look at your husband who’s very sick and you can’t help, and it kills you. Or you look at your husband that’s sick and you say, ‘I got you. I got it. I’m here. It’s going to be just fine.’ ”
Update: René Angélil lost his battle with throat cancer on January 13, 2016. He was 73 years old.