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Olivia Newton-John's Friend Amy Sky Says Actress Never Took 'Being Alive ... for Granted'

·4-min read

A few weeks before the news of Olivia Newton-John's death, she remained positive and was grateful to be alive.

Friend and fellow songwriter Amy Sky spoke to PEOPLE after Newton-John's death on Monday, recalling the last time she spoke to her on the phone.

"I could tell she was frail. And when I asked her how she was, she laughed, and she said, 'I'm alive,' " Sky, 61, says of her phone conversation with Newton-John, four weeks before her death. "That was her way of telling me that she didn't want to talk about her health, except with those super, super close in her house."

She continues, "She didn't want to put out to the world where she was, she didn't believe in labeling things. But she was trying to let me know that her being alive was really not something to take for granted anymore. I knew that she was on the decline."

RELATED: Beth Nielsen Chapman Says Olivia Newton-John's 'Friendship' Helped Her Through Cancer Treatments

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Amy Sky and Olivia Newton-John attend Nevada Ballet Theater's 32nd Annual Black & White Ball honoring Olivia Newton-John at Wynn Las Vegas on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Amy Sky and Olivia Newton-John attend Nevada Ballet Theater's 32nd Annual Black & White Ball honoring Olivia Newton-John at Wynn Las Vegas on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)

Denise Truscello/WireImage Amy Sky and Olivia Newton-John

RELATED: Olivia Newton-John Was an 'Angel on Earth,' Remember Friends: 'There Will Never Be Another Like Her'

Two days before she died, Newton-John's husband John Easterling reached out to Sky and and fellow Liv On songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman. By this time, Easterling had said she wasn't able to speak, but he would hold out the phone for her to listen.

"We just told her how grateful we were for her. We both loved her and, and we each sang a little bit of a song from Liv On to her," she says. "And I sang her the chorus of 'Grace and Gratitude,' because she always told me ... these are the words I want on my tombstone. Which is, 'Thank you for life, thank you for everything. I stand here in grace and gratitude — and I thank you.' And so I sung that chorus to her and and that was a beautiful way to have closure with her."

Sky and Chapman worked on the 2016 album Liv On with Newton-John, and pursued individual projects with her as well. Sky tells PEOPLE that throughout their years of friendship, she's always admired the Grease star's ability to see her pain as an opportunity to help others.

"If I can say one thing about Olivia as a person and as an artist, that was her philosophy was to take life's pain and to make it into into something beautiful — illuminate the path for others," Sky says. "She had a lot of trauma and a lot of those times in her life. And she never felt sorry for herself."

With that, Sky wants to emphasize that though Newton-John's death came "too soon," she still lived a life she was proud of.

"The important thing is that she accomplished everything that she wanted to in terms of both her music and her activism," she says.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Amy Sky (L) and Olivia Newton-John perform at the Union Chapel on January 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Imelda Michalczyk/Redferns)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Amy Sky (L) and Olivia Newton-John perform at the Union Chapel on January 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Imelda Michalczyk/Redferns)

Imelda Michalczyk/Redferns Amy Sky and Olivia Newton-John

RELATED: Jane Seymour Wipes Back Tears Remembering Olivia Newton-John: 'We Had a Very Special Bond'

"And at the end of her life, she had found real love. She had a very happy marriage, a real soulmate, and she found real peace and real acceptance," she continues. "I think she passed knowing that all was well with her soul. And I think people should feel not that her life was cut off, but that she had found a place she was looking for."

Newton-John died Monday at age 73, five years after announcing she had breast cancer that had metastasized to the sacrum.

Easterling announced his wife's death, saying she was surrounded by family and friends at her ranch in Southern California.

"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer," his statement read. "Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation."