April 4, 2013 was supposed to go very differently for Chaz and Roger Ebert. Having spent a few days in the hospital due to health complications from his prolonged battle with cancer, Roger was scheduled to return home for hospice care that day. Chaz was there to pick him up, but their return trip never happened. That was the day Roger died.
As the country mourned the loss of the beloved film critic, Chaz released a statement that said her husband had looked at her, smiled and passed away. Now, she opens up to "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" about what else happened in Roger's final moments, beginning with his early-morning good mood.
"He was really happy that morning. He was smiling," Chaz says.
Though Roger had lost his ability to speak years earlier, he and Chaz still had no trouble communicating. "I whispered in his ear, 'We're going home!' And he wrote, 'Home?' and gave me the thumbs-up," Chaz says.
Soon after that, Chaz stepped away to allow the nurses to dress Roger so he could be discharged, but she thought of something that made her turn back around and walked back into the room for a brief moment.
"I went back in just to ask him a question," she recalls. "He looked at me and he smiled. And he put his head down."
Something about Roger's position looked serene to Chaz. "I thought he was meditating," she continues. "By the time we realized that he wasn't meditating, they called a code-whatever and everybody started rushing in with machines. I realized that it was the end."
The couple had been married for 20 years when Roger died, and Chaz found it nearly impossible to let her husband go.
"I didn't want to do it at first," she says. "I asked them to resuscitate him, and they said no, because he had signed that do-not-resuscitate-order."
As painful as it was for Chaz to say goodbye to Roger that day, she knows it had to be done.
"It was the right thing to do, to let him go peacefully," Chaz says. "That's the way he wanted to go."
Chaz opens about how she's been doing since Roger's death and how she's keeping his legacy going, on this weekend's "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", airing Saturday, Oct. 10, at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
For more from "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", visit wherearetheynow.buzz.
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