Fiona Whelan Prine spoke to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 about a trip to Paris in February this year where her husband, legendary songwriter John Prine, played his last ever "magic" gig. She also recalled the weeks and days leading up to his death. 

Fiona, who is from Ardara in Co Donegal, shared the details of what happened in the weeks and days before John's death from Covid-19 on April 7.

She told the programme that he died after 12 days in ICU. She said: "His organs ravaged by a virus that travels between humans in tiny unseen droplets. 

"I look at the daily numbers and wish in vain that the numbers on the screen were minus one."

John, whose grandkids loved his "famous fluffy pancakes", was having difficulty with his hip, although tests showed that "it was nothing more than tendon pain," explained Fiona. 

Fiona Whelan and John Prine at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

"With prescribed pain meds we proceeded with plans for a ten-city tour. Stockholm and Oslo were the first shows and though he had to sit for the performances, John didn't disappoint. He delighted and mesmerised audiences both nights. 

"Next stop was Paris which John absolutely adored. He didn’t speak a lick of French and understood less, but he felt perfectly at home there. His hip pain now made walking impossible so we stayed in enjoying our lovely suite at his favourite hotel, the George V. 

"The rest of the tour would have to be cancelled but he really wanted to play his already sold-out first ever show in Paris. He did, and it was magic. We were not to know then that it would be his very last show."

Following the show, the couple flew home to Nashville where John had a hip replacement operation on February 18. It was successful and he was up and walking within a matter of hours.

On March 11, at a routine check-up, John’s GP suggested that they both should be tested for Covid-19 as they had been travelling in Europe. 

John Prine in 1975

"On March 16 we learned that his result was indeterminate and mine was positive. You could have knocked me over with a feather. 

"I had no symptoms and no idea how to react. So I quarantined away from John. That was tough. We were constant companions, business and life partners, best friends and confidantes."

Fiona explained to the show that the night before her quarantine ended John told her he was feeling unwell. By the time the couple were reunited the following day, John was weak and his blood pressure was low so she drove him to hospital.

"I stood on the sidewalk outside the hospital doors as they wheeled him away and wept behind my face mask. The next 13 days were an emotional rollercoaster."

Then on April 6, their wedding anniversary, Fiona received a call to say she needed to come to the hospital immediately.

"I felt like throwing up. I spent the next 17 hours with John, he was in deep sedation and hooked up to all kinds of machines. I talked to him, I held his unresponsive hand. I sang and I played messages from our boys and from his brothers.

John Prine performing in 1999

"I told him that my heart would be broken forever but that he could go on ahead and be with his mum and dad, with his brother Doug and all those aunties that loved him. I told him that I would be ok and that I would hold our three boys close, that we would talk about Grandpa all the time with the little ones. John passed at 5:26pm that evening."

Fiona is currently working on an online tribute "to honour John’s life, his music and remarkable legacy." She said she is glad to have something to do as it keeps her connected to her husband. 

She also spoke about families around the world who are experiencing the same insurmountable grief. "I cry in real-time with them, knowing that we share a common bond. 

"Our loved ones will have their very own chapter in the history books to come. My heart goes out to all of them."

Click here to listen to the feature in full on BBC Radio 4