Last Wednesday, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away at 91 years old. He was remembered for his role in America's sexual revolution. He created not just a magazine but also a mansion that housed models and playmates, including Crystal Harris, who went on to become Hefner's third wife. On social media, at least, she was silent after his passing, her Instagram having been deleted and her Twitter turned private. Today, however, she opened up exclusively to People about the aftermath of her husband's death and all that he meant to her.
"I haven’t been able to bring myself to write most people back to thank them for their condolences," she told the outlet. "I am heartbroken. I am still in disbelief. We laid him to rest Saturday. He is in the place he was always certain he wanted to spend eternity."
She went on to speak of his legacy, and how their marriage made her the person she is today:
"He was an American hero. A pioneer. A kind and humble soul who opened up his life and home to the world. I felt how much he loved me. I loved him so much. I am so grateful. He gave me life. He gave me direction. He taught me kindness. I will feel eternally grateful to have been by his side, holding his hand, and telling him how much I love him. He changed my life, he saved my life. He made me feel loved every single day. He was a beacon to the world, a force unlike anything else. There never has and never will be another Hugh M. Hefner."
Crystal, who currently runs an adventure and travel blog and just last year went public on Facebook about her decision to remove her breast implants and the consequences of Breast Implant Illness, made her debut in Playboy at 24 years old, and became engaged to Hefner a year later. They eventually married in late 2012.
"I join the world in mourning. I thank you for all of your condolences," she concludes in the statement. "To the people leaving sentiments at the front gate, we see you and grieve with you."