Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson

Brian Zak/Sipa Press via AP Images

The fifth anniversary of Natasha Richardson's tragic death is approaching, and the late actress' husband Liam Neeson is still struggling to make sense of her untimely passing at age 45 on March 18, 2009.

Speaking to 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper in an interview airing Sunday, Neeson says Richardson's death "was never real. It still kind of isn't." Some days, the actor forgets she's even gone. "There's periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years…Any time I hear that door opening, I still think I'm going to hear her," the Non-Stop star admits.

"It hits you. It's like a wave," he says. "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, 61, recalls arriving in a Canadian hospital, where doctors told him that the Parent Trap star was brain dead after falling on the slopes at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec. "I just told her I loved her, said, 'Sweetie, you're not coming back from this. You banged your head. I don't know if you can hear me, but this is what's gone down. We're bringing you back to New York, all your family and friends will come,'" the 61-year-old Northern Irishman tells Cooper. "That was more or less it."

According to the widower, he and Richardson had previously made a pact that they would "pull the plug" if either of them "got into a vegetative state." As Neeson remembers, "When I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought: 'Okay, these tubes have to go. She's gone.'"

Richardson donated three of her organs—her heart, her kidney and her liver—which makes Neeson proud. "It's terrific," he says. "And I think she would be very thrilled and pleased by that, too, actually."

In addition to her husband, the Tony Award winner is also survived by two sons, Micheál and Daniel.

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