One year after Buddy Valastro lost his mom, Mary Valastro, on June 22, 2017, after an eight-year battle with ALS, the Cake Boss star candidly opened up about his mother’s passing in an emotional new interview. “The day she passed was so mixed. It was a mixture of sadness and relief because she wasn’t really living at the time. This disease is horrible and it takes a toll on you, and she wasn’t that firecracker she always was,” he revealed.

“I don’t want to remember how she was during the last two years of her life, because that wasn’t her,” the 41-year-old recently told People. “I’m sad that the mom I know isn’t here — but with the ALS, I’m glad that God took her. I’m relieved for her because it wasn’t fair.”

Buddy also revealed that Mary’s death was much different than when his beloved father, Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro, Sr., died in March 1994 at age 54 after a short battle with lung cancer. “With my dad it was just so sudden. I watched my mom cry for nine months straight — but she became the most outgoing, vibrant, independent woman. That’s why the ALS was so torturous,” he shared.

Despite the pain, the father-of-four also said that his dad’s death ultimately brought him closer to his mom, Mary. “We cried together and we bonded and for the rest of her life was never anything that we wouldn’t come to each other with. There was nothing that was off limits. We just had such a great relationship,” Buddy said.

“My mom went to church every Sunday, and whenever she would talk about death, she’d say, ‘I’m not afraid because I’m going to heaven; I’m going to be with God.’ And I really believe that’s where she is. She’s singing ‘I Will Survive’ and my dad is baking,” Buddy added.

Late last year, Buddy similarly opened up about losing his mother in an interview with Radar Online. “She was my biggest fan, she was my mom, she was my hero. I would not be the man I am today without her. It is a loss,” he said, adding that watching Mary “deteriorate” over time while battling ALS was “really, really tough” for his family.

“When I go to the Hoboken bakery I cry. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped in my old office above the bakery. I just cried. I can hear her zipping around the place in my head and telling me she’s the boss. She will always be my boss,” Buddy continued.

Last summer, Buddy confirmed his mom had died via Instagram. “It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I must share the news of my mother’s passing. She left for heaven this morning, surrounded by the family,” he wrote at the time. “This is a difficult time for all of us and I do ask for your patience and respect while we let this sink in. Her battle with ALS has ended, she is no longer suffering and I hope she’s dancing to ‘I Will Survive’ with my dad right now.”

Buddy’s rep told People that the celebrity chef “rushed back to New Jersey” to be with his mom after her health took a turn for the worse. “Mary’s condition had been steadily worsening these past months, so it was not sudden but still extremely heartbreaking for the family,” the spokesperson said in June 2017. “After eight years of fighting her battle with ALS, the family is relieved she is no longer suffering. Buddy and his sisters are absolutely crushed right now.”

Following Mary’s death, Buddy announced all of his Carlo’s Bakery locations would close for one day to pay tribute to his late mom. “In observance of the mourning of the passing of Mary Valastro, Carlo’s Bakery will be closed Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Thank you in advance for your understanding. Normal business activities will resume Wednesday, June 28, 2017,” a message posted to the Carlo’s Bakery Instagram account read.

Prior to her passing, Mary had been a frequent guest-star on her son’s popular reality show, Cake Boss, over the years. The series premiered on TLC back in April 2009 and featured Buddy, his four sisters, and their extended family members as they ran Hoboken, NJ’s Carlo’s Bake Shop. Buddy candidly opened up about his mother’s disease in a 2014 interview. “The worst part about ALS is that one day you’re able to brush your teeth, then you’ll never be able to brush your teeth again. One day you’re able to walk — you’re never going to walk again,” he told People.

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Buddy with his mother and four sisters.

“I’ve seen the most independent, lively person that I’ve ever met in my life — I mean, she was just like a ball of energy — reduced to not being able to do anything for herself,” he added. “And I think that’s the part that kills her the most because she was the matriarch. She did so many things for everyone.”