Actor Liam Neeson is still mourning the sudden loss of wife Natasha Richardson five years after her death in a tragic skiing accident. Neeson has been relatively quiet about his loss, but on the anniversary of her death, is speaking out for the first time and says the whole ordeal still doesn't seem real.
"[Her death] was never real," Neeson told Anderson Cooper in an interview scheduled to air on Sunday. "It still kind of isn't. There's periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years … anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I'm going to hear her."
Richardson's death was completely unexpected. During a ski trip, she fell and hit her head but appeared just fine. She was talking and laughing, but a few hours later was taken to a Canadian hospital and pronounced brain dead due to swelling. Neeson revealed what he said to his wife in their final moments together.
"She was on life support … I went in to her and I told her I loved her and said, 'Sweetie, you're not coming back from this. You've banged your head.' She and I had made a pact – if any of us got into a vegetative state that we'd pull the plug. That was my immediate thought: 'Okay, these tubes have got to go. She's gone,'" Neeson said.
He made the hard decision to keep her "alive" long enough for loved ones to say their goodbyes and for doctors to harvest her organs for those who may need them.
"Donated three of her organs," Neeson said, "so she's keeping three people alive at the moment … her heart, her kidneys and her liver. It's terrific and I think she would be very thrilled and pleased by that."
Neeson has since had to step into the role of single father for sons Michael and Daniel. He and Richardson had been married since 1994, and he said that the loss still hits him hard.
"It hits you. It's like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability … the Earth isn't stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes," Neeson admitted.
The actor currently stars in "Non-Stop," which will premiere next week. His interview with Anderson Cooper airs Sunday, February 23, at 7 p.m. EST on CBS.