Nancy Reagan Returns to Washington

ByABC News via via logo

May 11, 2005 -- -- Still grieving for her husband, Nancy Reagan spoke exclusively with "Good Morning America" about the difficult months since the president's death, his final goodbye and what it's like to be back in the White House -- as Washington prepares to honor her in a rare bipartisan tribute tonight.

Speaking publicly for the first time in the 11 months since President Reagan's death, Nancy Reagan shared her final moments with her husband of 52 years.

"If a death can be peaceful and lovely, that one was," she said. "… And when it came down to what we knew was the end, and I was on one side of the bed with Ron, and Patty was on the other side, and Ronnie all of a sudden turned his head and looked at me and opened his eyes and just looked … Well, what a gift he gave me at that point."

Since Reagan's funeral, the former first lady has been focusing on just getting by, while staying close to home.

"I didn't want to be out among a lot of people, I didn't feel up to it," she said.

Back at the White House, as a guest of President Bush, Mrs. Reagan also spoke of being on the other side of the stem cell debate as her host, who continues to rally against it.

"I just think that you could save so many millions of people's lives if you really charged ahead with stem cells. And hopefully, we will."

Mrs. Reagan will be honored at a dinner that will raise money for a presidential transportation pavilion at the Reagan library.

The former first lady says she has no plans to take on a political role right now, but instead wants to spend time with friends and family and with her memories of the man she says taught her so much.

"I learned a lot from Ronnie, while he was sick -- a lot," she said. "I learned patience. I learned how to accept something that was given to you, and how to die."

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