Singer Carole Bayer Sager is grateful she was allowed to say goodbye to her close friend Dame Elizabeth Taylor before she lost her fight for life in hospital - because she saw the actress "wasn't in pain" anymore.
The Cleopatra icon died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday (23Mar11), after a long battle with ill health.
Sager saw Taylor in her final hours, and has opened up about the star's last moments during an emotional interview on U.S. chat show Piers Morgan Tonight.
She says, "I went there last night to say goodbye and I knew she was going and I hated that she'd been in hospital for seven weeks, but she wasn't in pain last night and she wasn't really conscious when I saw her. I was there with Liza and Maria, her two daughters, and I was able to say goodbye."
Sager has heaped praise on Taylor for her longstanding friendship and revealed how the actress supported many of her employees and showbiz pals, including Michael Jackson and actor Roddy MCDowall.
She adds, "She was an extraordinary friend - and not just for the good times. She showed up in my life when my marriage broke up many years ago, to Burt Bacharach. She was there for her friends, for her family, her assistant Tim. (Before) his mother died this year she insisted she come and stay at her home and made a hospice for Tim's mum and she made a hospice for her longtime publicist, who died in Elizabeth's home.
"She was there for Roddy MCDowall who she loved dearly, they were child actors together. She knew how to show up. She showed up for Michael Jackson. When he needed support she flew around the world to be with him. She was an extraordinary, loving, generous friend."
The singer/songwriter admits Taylor was in pain during her final years, but is proud of her pal's spirit and determination through her health battle, adding: "She was in a wheelchair for the last few years of her life and this year she fractured both of her knees and literally had to be carried out of the wheelchair and hospital bed. She couldn't do the things she did.
"She was so brave. Most of her life she endured chronic back pain and she brought all this light and love and generosity to this world despite the fact, often, she was in pain. I think the last few years... didn't bring her as much joy because her body was failing and she wasn't - her spirit wasn't, but her body was. It had lived a lot and suffered a lot."
And Sager hopes Taylor will be remembered for her loving nature and dedicated charity work: "I think she'd want to be seen as an actress who cared very, very deeply about her friends and this world."