Dr. S. Robert Levine, the widower of TV icon Mary Tyler Moore, spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday about his wife of 33 years.

“I can’t believe she is gone,” the noted cardiologist, who was 29 when he married the 45-year-old Moore in November 1983, told People magazine in a statement. “Mary was my life, my light, my love. The emptiness I feel without her with me is without bottom. She was a force of nature who fiercely defended her autonomy even as her health was failing. Mary was fearless, determined, and willfull. If she felt strongly about something, or that there was truth to be told, she would do it, no matter the consequences.”

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Levine, whose parents Irving and Marion Levine lived in Port Washington, went on to call his late wife “kind, genuine, approachable, honest and humble. And she had that smile. Oh, to see her smile that smile, just once more. . . . My sadness is only tempered by the remarkable outpouring of good wishes, tributes, and personal ‘Mary stories’ told, with heart, by those touched by her grace.”

Moore became America’s sweetheart as Laura Petrie on the classic CBS sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961–1966) and went on to star in her eponymous 1970-1977 series that became an acclaimed feminist touchstone. She died Jan. 25 at age 80 of cardiopulmonary arrest with underlying causes. On Sunday she was interred in Oak Lawn Cemetery & Arboretum in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“As long as we all remember her,” Levine said, “talk about her, share our stories about her, and what she meant to us, her light will never go out.”