By J.D. Heyman
February 01, 2010 12:00 PM

She loved being a star. So when Brittany Murphy was buried on Christmas Eve, loved ones dressed her in a pink gown by Blumarine, decked her out in Cartier diamond earrings and left the two Neil Lane engagement rings given to her by her husband, Simon Monjack, on her tiny fingers. Tucked under her arm was a doll of the Little Prince, from the French children’s book, and above her head was the figure of an angel. “Someone to watch over her,” says Monjack. “So she’ll never be alone.” As a last gesture, mourners sprinkled “fairy dust” glitter on the coffin. In the days since, Monjack, 39, and Murphy’s mother, Sharon, 57, have remained in the mansion they shared with the actress, who died there on Dec. 20 at age 32. Despite rumors surrounding Murphy’s death, both say the cause was cardiac arrest triggered by a heart murmur (toxicology results are pending). In their first interviews since the tragedy, Monjack and Murphy sat down with PEOPLE executive editor J.D. Heyman.

How are you coping?

Monjack: Sometimes it’s like she’s away on a movie. Other times, it’s deeply painful.

Had Brittany been sick in her final days? Had she seen a doctor?

Monjack: Yes. She had laryngitis and flu-like symptoms. She was on an antibiotic and doing all the right things.

Can you describe her last morning?

Monjack: I was just going off to sleep, and Brittany woke up and couldn’t catch her breath. She was wearing her favorite pink Beverly Hills Hotel bathrobe. She kissed me and said, “I love you,” like she did every morning. Natural, untouched lips—no Restylane. Then she said, “I need to go to the bathroom.” Next thing I knew, Sharon was screaming. Brittany was on the floor. I found a pulse as best I could, and I put her in a cold shower to try to revive her. That didn’t work, so I pulled her out of the shower and began CPR. It was literally, “I love you; I’m dead.” It was that quick.

Explain Brittany’s heart condition.

Monjack: Brittany had been diagnosed as a child with mitral valve prolapse [a typically harmless condition in which one valve does not close properly]. She had expressed to me a fear of dying young and a fear of her heart. We had it checked out every way you could imagine.

Was she anorexic?

Monjack: No! Go to the Chateau Marmont and speak to any waiter and ask how many plates of food she would go through in one sitting. Nonsense. I understand from the coroner she weighed 115 lbs., and she was 5’3″.

People have said she was flighty.

Monjack: Look around at the 10,000-sq.-ft. home. Look around at the determination of a 13-year-old girl that brought her mother from New Jersey because she wanted to change the world and did. Is that flighty?

Did she have any other health issues other than the heart problem?

Monjack: No. She had a mother upstairs, a husband who loved her. She was an innocent angel. Do you not think anybody would have picked up on this anorexic, mentally deranged person? It’s so ludicrous.

Did she know people gossiped about her behaving erratically?

Monjack: Of course. There are a lot of people in Hollywood who must be cleaning their hands very well to take the blood off them. I think they need to wash them in very hot water.

So she never took drugs?

Monjack: Brittany had mitral valve prolapse. If she’d taken cocaine, she would have died the same second.

You say the painkillers that were found in the house were for cramps?

Monjack: Yes. She suffered terribly during that time of the month.

Was she upset at the state of her career?

Monjack: I’m not going to lie and say she was happy doing independents [films]. But she loved to work.

How do you respond to accusations that you were controlling?

Monjack: I say be in my marriage. I say listen to what my wife wanted. Brittany didn’t become Brittany Murphy by being controlled.

What’s your fondest memory of her?

Monjack: I think about magic angel kisses. I think about waking up at 2 [a.m.] and doing a photo shoot. I think about her saying, “Let’s go to Chanel!” And then, $60,000 later, she’d say, “Oh, but darling, I have to have a Louis Vuitton bag for [her Maltese] Clara!”

Is it getting any easier?

Monjack: No. It’s getting harder.

Reflecting on everything, what runs through your mind?

Monjack: I had a life I never dreamed. I have seen the sun set on five continents. I’d trade it all for one more day with Brittany. I lost my life. She was my best friend, and she was a little girl who wanted her husband right there. What do I have left?