October 24, 2016 02:19 PM

In the Alamo, Calif., home where Dan Diaz and his late wife built a life together, memories linger everywhere: in the white marble kitchen counters she picked out; in the room where he proposed on bended knee; in the lovingly framed photos of their travels from Lake Tahoe to Patagonia that adorn the walls of the spotless ranch house where they had hoped to raise a family.

The ever-present reminders hurt and heal in equal measure.

“I have good days and bad days,” Diaz, 43, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “But the feeling of loss is always there – particularly in the morning when I first wake up. And at night, when the house is quiet and I’m just there with the dogs. I think about her every day.”

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