Céline Dion is coping with the loss of her beloved husband René Angélil, followed by the death of her brother just two days later. Click here for the full story, only in PEOPLE.
“Thank you all for being here. Thank you also to those across the world who are watching that are sharing in our grief. I was lucky enough to be born into a family where there is a lot of love,” he began in French before continuing in English.
“Fifteen years is not a long time for a son to get to know his father. You had a busy life, but we were communicating through golf, hockey, poker and smoked meat … and a lot of other wonderful food, bonding more and more as time went by,” the grief-stricken son – who turns 15 next week – said, eliciting a laugh from the packed congregation at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica.
But René-Charles’ heartbreak also came across as he spoke, leaving many at the Mass in tears.
“You left me now with enough good memories of you to share with my younger brothers,” he said of 5-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy. “As they grow older, without you being around, I’ll make sure to pass on what I’ve learned from you. You are a tough act to follow, but with your help, everything’s gonna be fine. Dad, I promise you here that we’re all going to live up to your standards.”
Angélil was two days shy of his 74th birthday when he died after a long battle with cancer last week.
Hundreds gathered for the funeral at the basilica, which Angélil planned before his death to ease his widow’s burden.
Dion was surrounded by family – including her mother, Therése; and Angélil’s adult children from prior marriages, Patrick, Jean-Pierre and Anne-Marie – as she mourned at the funeral. Before René-Charles spoke, his half-brother Patrick shared a speech in French.
For much more on Dion and Angélil’s love story and how the singer is focusing on the couple’s children, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Two days after Angélil’s death, Dion’s brother Daniel, 59, also died of cancer. The tragedies have left the singer heartbroken, but she’s finding comfort in the outpouring of love from friends, family and fans.