In the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now, friends of Céline Dion share intimate memories from some of René Angélil’s final moments with his family.
René, who was battling throat cancer, had not been well for a while. Still, a friend of Céline’s tells Closer that his death on Jan. 14 was not entirely expected. “René was actually doing pretty well over the holidays. He was in very good spirits,” the friend says. “Everyone feels now that René — even subconsciously — knew he was at the end.”
The friend adds, “He found some inner energy to really be present for his family during the holiday celebrations.” At Christmas, while Céline was on a break from her Las Vegas show, “she tried to make all the lasting memories that she could,” adds an insider.
Céline and René in 2011.
René spent his last Christmas with Céline and their three boys, René-Charles, 14, and twins Nelson and Eddy, 5. Céline also invited René’s grown children from his previous marriages, Patrick, Jean-Pierre and Anne-Marie Angélil, to celebrate with them. “He was all smiles and laughing as Nelson and Eddy ran around the house,” the insider shares with Closer.
René’s health upswing lasted into the New Year. “I think he felt warm, satisfied and was at peace with himself,” says the friend. René and Céline reportedly even had a business meeting scheduled on the day he passed away.
On Céline’s Jan. 13 performance, the audience at the Caesars Palace Colosseum clapped, screamed and rose to their feet to show their appreciation. “She sang with such emotion and did get tearful at one point,” an audience member tells Closer.
Céline and René in 2007.
“She seemed very thankful for the support of her fans.” Céline paused, smiling and basking in the waves of love, before taking a final bow and striding offstage. “After the show, she left quickly,” notes another fan.
With the cheers of the audience still ringing in her ears, Céline had ducked into a waiting car that ferried her home to her ailing husband, René, for what would be the very last time.
Céline, who friends call a deeply “spiritual” woman, is obviously devastated. “I think seeing René rally a bit over the holiday gave her some hope that he still had some months left,” says the friend.
For more on Céline’s heartbreak, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!