June 8, 2004 -- Ronald Reagan's last gift to his beloved wife, Nancy, was a simple, lucid gaze, Patti Davis writes in People's June 21 issue.
"Eyes that hadn't opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague," the 51-year-old daughter of the late president wrote in the magazine essay. "If a death can be lovely, his was."
Since the moment of his death Saturday, all eyes have been on Nancy Reagan. The Reagans' love story has never been a secret to the world.
The Rev. Michael Wenning of the Bel Air Presbyterian Church, where Reagan had worshipped, said the couple's relationship was a joyous illustration of what a loving marriage should be.
"Thank you for the partnership that he and Nancy have shared together. For the wonderful example that they been to us all and to the nation," Wenning said at a brief service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where the former leader's casket is lying in repose.
In her People essay, Davis says her mother's loss has been difficult to bear, even though she knew the day was coming.
Former President Reagan's son Michael said the family was prepared for his passing, but it's still hard to let go.
"I knew my father was going to pass away. He was slipping more and more away, but when it happened it hits you like a ton of bricks. I miss him already," Michael Reagan said on his nationally syndicated radio show Monday.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan were married for 52 years, and in the last 10 years — while her husband struggled with Alzheimer's disease — she never left his side.
The Long, Hard Goodbye
After the brief service at the presidential library Monday, Nancy Reagan, 82, touched her cheek to her husband's flag-covered casket.
The president's body will lie in repose in the library until it is moved to Washington, D.C., Wednesday for a state funeral. The funeral will be held at the Washington National Cathedral, with President Bush delivering a eulogy.The president will be put to rest in California, during a sunset hilltop burial at the library's memorial site.