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Inside Politics

Reagans shared one last moment

Ex-president, wife shared poignant goodbye, daughter writes

Patti Davis and Nancy Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Patti Davis
Nancy Reagan

(CNN) -- In intimate contrast to the public remembrances of her father's life, Patti Davis writes in the June 21 issue of People magazine that the moment of Ronald Reagan's death was a quiet and touching lesson in the endurance of love.

"At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother," the 51-year-old daughter of the late president wrote. "Eyes that hadn't opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague.

"They were clear and blue and full of love. If a death can be lovely, his was."

Reagan's wife, Nancy -- married to the actor, governor, president and then gentleman rancher for 52 years -- "managed to say to him" that one look was "the greatest gift you could have given me," Davis wrote.

'It will be okay'

Earlier, during the painful waiting, Davis recalled holding her sobbing mother close.

"My mother is tiny, her weight against me light," she wrote. " ... But her grief is huge and so heavy it pulls on the joints of my body. It will be okay, I tell her, but I have no idea if it will be."

Acknowledging that the death of a former president of Reagan's stature would be "a big unwieldy one -- a world event," Davis wrote of preparing to "grab onto the massive grief around us and go home at night to the shape of the grief inside us."

But in the end, she wrote, her father's death taught her "that there is nothing stronger than love between two people, two souls."

"Love opens eyes one last time, reaches past illness and the dwindling flame of life," she wrote. "It reaches past death and cradles hearts while they weep. It was the last thing he could do in this world to show my mother how entwined their souls are -- and it was everything."

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