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Kathie Lee Gifford returns to 'Today' show after death of husband Frank Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford returns to

Kathie Lee Gifford returns to "Today" on Aug. 17 for the first time since her husband Frank Gifford's death on Aug. 9. Photo Credit: NBC Today

"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!"

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."

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."

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