Two years after Anna Nicole Smith's sudden death at the age of 39, there's still a void in the lives of the men who loved her most, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead.
"It's still hard for me to watch video of Anna, to see pictures of her, and to know that she's gone," Stern, Smith's onetime lawyer and devoted companion, said in an exclusive interview with E! News.
After she died, "I realized how important she was to my life—she was my whole life. I gave up my whole world for her."
"For at least a year after Anna's death, I couldn't concentrate," Stern said. "I couldn't even focus on something for more than a couple of minutes at a time without breaking down or somehow just not being there—like I wasn't present.
"For a long time I just wanted to die, literally."
He said that, one day, he'll probably write a book about his loss.
"I still haven't accepted it," Stern said. "I still have dreams where she's alive and…everything that's happened in the past two years has just basically been a big hoax."
But while Stern is still grieving, he's more focused on making sure he's not the only one who appreciates what was lost when Smith—whom he calls a "once-in-a-generation celebrity"—died on Feb. 8, 2007, of an accidental prescription drug overdose.
While Smith's personal life was tabloid fodder for years, the sudden passing of her 20-year-old son, Daniel, in September 2006 and the custody battle over her infant daughter, Dannielynn, dominated headlines of both the National Enquirer and CNN variety.
"I kind of feel like it's my responsibility to try and undo what was done in the media to Anna after she passed away," Stern said. "I want her to be remembered fondly and I want her legacy to be who she was, not what was put out there by the frauds and the media that was just trying for ratings."
The job of polishing Smith's image has also been taken up by Birkhead, the former Playboy Playmate's baby daddy who ultimately won full custody of Dannielynn when DNA testing proved he was the child's biological father.
"One of my jobs in my personal life is to keep Anna's image alive," he said, adding that being with his daughter is like being with Smith "all over again."
"I think that I see a little bit of everything," Birkhead said of Dannielynn's resemblance to her mom, "and it's really bittersweet because you have this person you lost, but then you have this pint-sized version of this person."
Stern, too, called Danielynn a "little mini Anna."
"When you see her, even her expressions, if she's angry it's the same way Anna would be when she's angry," he said. "Dannielynn, she's got Anna's spirit for sure."
"That's what people don't understand," Stern lamented. Smith "had a huge heart, she had a big personality and that's…why she was the entertainer that she was, that's why she was a star. Because of her big personality, if Anna walked in a room it didn't matter who else was in the room—everybody was paying attention to Anna."
But "it's the side of her that people didn't see that is the most special part of Anna," he added. "That's who I fell in love with."
Stern said that his most cherished possessions now are Smith's three dogs.
"I mean Anna really spoiled these dogs, to her they were like children. And now I have them and so on a daily basis, when I see the dogs, I think of better times."
Tune in to the E! Special Anna Nicole: Tragedy in Paradise tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT