After a 16-year battle with throat cancer, Celine Dion’s husband René Angélil has sadly passed away. The 73-year-old music manager died this morning in his Las Vegas home after what is described as his “long and courageous” fight. In a not-your-average love story, Dion (43) and Angélil always beat the odds, which is what makes this story particularly devastating.
Known for their considerable age gap, Angélil became the singer’s manager after he discovered her at age 12, and he was 38. Seven years later, they became romantically involved, were engaged in 1991 and have been married since 1994, when they tied the knot at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec. After enduring fertility struggles, the couple had three children together: René-Charles (14) and 5-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy. (Angélil is also survived by kids Anne-Marie, Patrick and Jean-Pierre, from previous marriages.) The iconic singer began taking time off from work when her husband was first diagnosed with cancer in 1999, underwent a tumor removal in 2013 and learned of the cancer’s return in 2014.
Still, the two never gave up. It’s been an extremely tumultuous time for Dion, who has publicly broke down in recent months. One time in particular, though, the star opened up to People about how frightened she was to lose her husband. “I am scared of losing him,” she said last spring, “But I have to show myself, my husband and my kids that I’m strong and we’re okay.” It was then she revealed his dying wish.
“I’ll say, ’You’re scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.’ And René says to me, ’I want to die in your arms.’ Okay, fine, I’ll be there, you’ll die in my arms… 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.”
Although Dion has yet to make a public statement, her team asks that the family gets their privacy and respect until further notice.