"Today" co-host Kathie Lee Gifford returned to the NBC morning show on Monday for the first time since the Aug. 9 death of her husband, New York Giants legend and sportscasting great Frank Gifford.

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and that's something that my family and I have been through this week when we lost Frank," said Gifford, sitting next to her friend and fellow co-host Hoda Kotb. She thanked well-wishers "for your love and your texts and your tweets. . . . The outpouring has been extraordinary. . . . Believe me, my family and I got great strength and comfort from it. And the tributes to Frank, I think, were just extraordinary. But he would've loved them!"

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Speaking sometimes with trembling voice, Gifford, who turned 62 on Sunday, described how her 84-year-old husband "passed away instantly that morning all dressed in what he knew was my favorite outfit -- white shirt, very tight black jeans," she said, chuckling at the memory, "having his coffee, watching his TV, getting ready . . . for church, and excited about what we're going to have for lunch."

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And she added: "I'm grateful that the Lord took him that way because the only thing Frank has ever been afraid of in his entire life was being a burden to those he loved. He never wanted to be hooked up to machines. He never wanted to lose his dignity -- he'd seen so much of that through the years."

She reminisced that "He used to say to me when I'd get sort of miffed at him . . . 'You know, a lot of people like me!' And I'd go, 'Yeah, well, they don't live with you!' And we laughed up to the very end and I just want everybody to know that this is a man who was at complete peace in his life. He might have been the happiest, most contented person in the world at this point in his life."