01/11/2012 05:02 EST | Updated 03/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Toronto police officer's widow marks 1st anniversary of his death

Christine Russell says she will spend a quiet and private day as she marks the first anniversary of the death of her husband, Sgt. Ryan Russell.

Ryan Russell, a Toronto police officer, was killed Jan 12, 2011, when he was hit by a stolen snowplow. The man accused of driving the vehicle, Richard Kachkar, 45, is facing a first-degree murder charge.

Christine Russell said Wednesday she will take the time, along with family and friends, to remember her husband.

"It was such a major event and such a tragic loss and I've been coping with it. But without the support from the public, I don't think I would have gotten through [it]" she told CBC News.

She said the 12 months since have been difficult as she fights to rebuild a life for herself and her son Nolan.

"You know I've never had that day where I've just laid in bed all day and cried," she said. "That's not an option."

In the interview she spoke about the terrible days after Ryan's death and her decision to speak at his funeral.

"As public as it was, it was also a very private moment, and it was my time to say 'I love you, I'm proud of you and thank you, Ryan.' And like I said, there were so many people there, but it was my private moment and it did take a lot of courage to stand up there. I did feel a little weak as I got to the top of the stairs, but it was something I had to do."

She said she's also had to be open and honest with Nolan, who is now three years old.

"I tell him that [his father has] gone up to heaven," she said. "We have a skylight in our house and we lay on the floor in the hallway and look up through the skylight and I say 'That's your window to heaven and any time you want to talk to daddy or look at him, just look up through the skylight.'"

In 2012, Russell said, she will focus on the future for her family.

"I can get through anything now and I'm looking forward to just figuring out what the rest of my life is going to look like."