Before Nancy Reagan passed peacefully in her sleep last weekend, she was ready – eager, even – to be reunited with her "Ronnie," the love of her life.
"Oh, she always mentioned that," her friend, talk-show host Larry King tells PEOPLE in an interview for this week's cover story.
Nancy would often visit her husband's grave at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where the former first lady will be laid to rest on March 11, beside the former president, who died in 2004, King says.
"How she looked forward to being buried next to him. She had a strong belief that they're together. She believed it and that's what was important for her."
As granddaughter Ashley Reagan wrote on Twitter after Nancy's death on Sunday, "Grandma and Grandpa are together again."
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For more on Nancy and Ronald Reagan's great American love story, pick up a copy of this week's PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands Friday
King says he last spoke to Nancy several months ago and even then, "she was very ready to go. She didn't like her condition. She'd fallen a few times and she was feeling 94."
And close friend Betsy Bloomingdale explains that Nancy never really got over losing Ron.
"Like any widow, she adjusted. But Nancy missed Ronnie terribly and always."