PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - As Sen. John McCain's family returns to Arizona to honor his legacy this week, one year since his death and his birthday, his widow, Cindy, sat down for an exclusive interview. She opened up about loss, what comforts her and the one thing besides John the family can celebrate this week.

"I miss his voice," Cindy said.

She added it's already been an emotional week. She hasn't had the luxury of grieving in private.

[WATCH: One year after the passing of John McCain]

"People stop me literally everywhere, in airports, on the street, in the malls. A lot of people will say, 'You know, I didn't vote for him, but I really respected him,'" she said.

[RELATED: John McCain, senator and former presidential candidate, dies at 81]

But not everyone respects common decency. Some attack the family with despicable snipes on social media you wouldn't wish on any enemy, simply because they disagree with her husband's politics.

"Not only is that kind of stuff unnecessary, but this lack of decency, and lack of civility that's going on right now is not acceptable in any stretch. And the fact that it's anonymous on Twitter is even worse," Cindy said.

[RAW VIDEO: Exclusive interview with Cindy McCain remembering late Sen. John McCain]

Navigating a world without John has been a tricky balance.

"You know, I have good days and bad days. More good than bad, each day questioning, 'Am I doing it right? Would he appreciate this? Would he like it? Would he approve?'" Cindy said.

McCain family finding comfort

She's still marinating in the memories of their last precious moments together at their Hidden Valley Ranch outside Sedona.

"He died very peacefully," McCain said. "We had taken his bed and pushed it out onto the deck. We had his playlist on and 'My Way,' by Frank Sinatra was playing when one of our hawks that he took off from the roof behind me and swooped down and landed in a tree facing us."

"And that's when John literally took his last breath. He did it his way. That's exactly where he wanted to be," Cindy said.

[RELATED: IN PHOTOS: The day we lost our Maverick - Aug. 25, 2018]

She's slowly adjusting to a new normal.

It's the passing of holidays, what would have been their 39th wedding anniversary in May, and her birthday, without their Maverick.

"I've appreciated the distraction of travel right now," she said. "I've certainly been back to our ranch, but it's a little hard right now."

And not just for Cindy.

Meghan McCain's been pretty open on social media about not being able to come back to Arizona since her father's death.

[RELATED: Meghan McCain emotionally remembers her father in first View appearance since his death]

Cindy says of their seven children, Meghan's having the hardest time coping without him.

"She and her husband are going to John's grave. She's not been to his grave, and so she's going to go this weekend," Cindy said.

[RELATED: Washington says goodbye to John McCain]

Cindy says a couple of things give her great comfort.

"Burma (John's dog) was never the same after John died," McCain said.

Though she was sad to lose John's beloved Chesapeake Bay retriever, Burma, she knows they are together again.

[READ: Sen. John McCain's farewell statement]

"They're up there together now, having a good time throwing balls and doing all that stuff," Cindy said.

And then, there's this.

Her youngest son Jimmy and daughter-in-law Holly, are expecting their first baby.

"Literally any day, I mean we're all sitting here on our phones, waiting for the text that goes out," Cindy said.

And it's a boy.

"I'm very excited about that!" Cindy said.

The due date is very close to John's death anniversary and his birthday.

Cindy is staying busy as best she can, traveling a lot in the last year.

She's working with TGen in the push to find a cure for glioblastoma and is just as passionate about getting the pendulum of our increasingly divisive politics to swing back to the center.

[RELATED: Cards star Larry Fitzgerald reflects on John McCain’s legacy]

"He would be very disappointed in what's going on right now. I know he would," she said. "Both parties have been led astray. Both of us agree on some things, and both of us disagree on many things. But that's OK! That's what the United States is all about!"

Cindy talks politics

She didn't vote for Donald Trump in 2016.

"I wrote in my husband!" she admits.

Would she ever consider an endorsement for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden?

"Joe is a good family friend. He's a member of our family. He helped us through an incredibly difficult time, but I'm not going to get involved in any of it. I love Joe to death. I love a lot of people, but it's not my place to do that right now," she said.

While she's flattered people expected her to get into politics after John's passing, it's still a no.

As for John's Senate seat, this week, there's a five- point lead for Democratic challenger Mark Kelly over Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Cindy says we need to remember, it's still early.

"Listen, I've been in a spot with my husband where they counted him out in '08, and he was done, done, done! Then he wound up getting the nomination!" said Cindy.

"We hear a lot of people say they wish we had a John McCain in the world still," said Nicole Crites.

"So do I!" replied Cindy.

When President Donald Trump didn't stop supporters chanting "send her back" about Somali refugee Rep. Ilhan Omar at a recent rally, people couldn't help but contrast that to John McCain's actions in 2008.

That's when a woman took the mic at a campaign town hall saying, "I don't trust Obama. He's an Arab!"

To which, John shook his head and said, "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, a citizen that I just have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about. He is not. Thank you."

"And that leadership is missing today," Cindy said.

If John were still here, she says his advice to politicians and voters would be very direct and honest

"Not only is it time to get back to work and work across the aisle, but it's necessary!" said Cindy.

Preserving John McCain's legacy

So she will use her public platform to do everything she can to honor his legacy.

"The one thing he wanted and impressed upon me was, 'Don't be sad. Let's remember the good times and remember the joy of not just being married and having a family, but the joy of life," she said. "That's who he was, so if I could honor him in any way, it's that way."

[RELATED: McCain buried at Naval Academy after five-day procession]

The McCain family is having an intimate gathering Saturday with their closest friends then throwing a big party here in Phoenix for his birthday next Thursday, inviting people from all over the country who worked with them and on his campaigns.

"We call that the 'Hotel California Party' because you know in the McCain world, once you check in, you never check out!" McCain said.

She is also inviting everyone to celebrate her late husband, by taking a pledge of civility, to engage in small acts of reaching out to someone you've had differences with, and then share it on social media #ActsOfCivility to spark a positive movement for a change.

Nicole Crites anchors 3TV's Good Evening Arizona weekdays. Nicole also digs deep into issues affecting Arizonans.  You'll see her reports on 3TV News at 9 p.m.
 
 


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