“Today, Papa went ‘up’.”
This is the stirring way Celine Dion used the magic of Disney to tell her five-year-old twin boys their father had lost his battle with cancer.
The My Heart Will Go On singer has described for the first time how she broke the devastating news to little Nelson and Eddy of the death of her husband, Rene Angelil — and it is truly touching.
Dion, 48, told ABC News she began not by speaking of Angelil, but by talking about how everybody gets sick. She then asked them: “Do you remember the movie Up?” (The 2009 Disney animation film, she explained, was “one of our favourites”.)
“‘Oh,’ they said, ‘Yes, Ellie went up.’ You know, she with the balloons. And I said, ‘Well, yeah… You know, today Papa went up’,” she said.
She said when her sons questioned where their dad had gone, she only wanted them to answer "up".
"Is Papa in the living room? Is Papa in the kitchen? Papa is not in the bed anymore. Papa is not coming back," she said she told her sons.
"'Up' is a good thing. 'Up' is uplifting."
She said she didn't want her sons to fear the doctor or death, so she stressed to her boys just how ill their father was.
"Papa went 'up' because Papa was very sick. He didn't have a sore throat. He did not have a bellyache. He did not have an earache," she recalled saying.
"Do you remember Papa had a tube in his belly? Do you have a tube in your belly? Do you? I don't. That's really, really, really, really, really sick."
The singer then took her twins outside to bid a poignant farewell by releasing balloons, blowing pixie dust and making wishes.
"We're going to celebrate right now, because Papa is no longer in pain," she said she told her children,
"We’re gonna say, Papa, we love you. Have a good 'up'. And we're gonna spread this, and it’s gonna go to him."
Watch: Inside Celine Dion and Rene Angelil's enduring 20-year love story. Post continues after video...
Dion also shared how she spent her final minutes with Angelil telling him not to worry as she lay in bed beside him.
"The kids are fine. I'm fine. I promise you we're gonna be OK. Please leave in peace. I don't want you to worry," she recalled telling him.
Angelil, a famed composer and Dion's manager, died of throat cancer in January at age 73. Apart from Nelson and Eddy, Angelil and Dion also had a third child together, 15-year-old Rene-Charles.
Feature image via Instagram @celinediontribute.