In a conference celebrating the career of his medical advisers, Michael Schiavo said he refused for years to believe his wife, Terri, was in a permanent vegetative state.

He said he insisted others put makeup on her and brush her hair.

“I was going to bring my wife home,” he said at the medical ethics conference honoring Dr. Ronald Cranford, a right-to-death activist who backed Schiavo’s decision to end his wife’s life, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The conference in Minneapolis marked the first time since his wife’s death six months ago that Schiavo publicly shared his side of the ordeal that captured the imagination and passion of the world.

As protesters picketed outside, Schiavo told the gathering of 200 that he never imagined, when he decided to remove his wife’s feeding tube that he would land in the middle of a national debate.

“All I wanted to do was carry out my wife’s wishes.”

In a tearful speech, he said: “I’m not a public speaker, as you all know. You didn’t see much of me. All I can do right now is be myself, and tell you how I feel.”

Schiavo said he was denounced by the president, Congress, the pope, the Rev. Jesse Jackson “and even Mel Gibson.”

Eventually, the courts ruled the feeding tube could be removed, over her parents’ objection, and Terri, 41, died weeks later in a Florida hospice March 31.

“I want everybody to know the day Terri died, she was so peaceful,” Schiavo said. “Terri didn’t die an awful death.” He said he held her in his arms as she slipped away. “I laid a red rose in her hand and said goodbye.”

Demonstrators outside carried signs that read: “Courage is Caring, Not Killing,” and “Where there is life, there is hope. Remember Terri Schindler-Schiavo.”

Among those present were Brother Paul O’Donnell, a member of the Franciscan Brothers for Peace in St. Paul, and a spiritual adviser to Terri Schiavo’s parents. Mary Schindler, Terri’s mother, sent a message of thanks to the protesters. Among the marchers were three women who call themselves “Terri’s Fighters,” who had driven from Florida just for the rally.

Schiavo has written a book due out next March.

“We had our dreams, and we wanted to start a family,” he recalled. “We expected to live our lives together.”

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Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.

Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.

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