For Michael Riordan, it began with a phone call from the chaplain at a Philadelphia hospital.

"(He) called and said, 'We need to speak with Mike Riordan who is married to Jennifer. Are you married to Jennifer Riordan?'" Michael told ABC News. "I said, 'Yes, but she wasn't going through Philadelphia. She was planning on going to Chicago so I don't think you --' just absolute denial. I'm still in denial."

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As Michael waited for a followup call from a doctor, he learned the tragic news of April 17 online: an engine on Jennifer's Southwest Flight 1380 had failed 32,000 feet above the ground and smashed a window of the Boeing 737 en route from New York's LaGuardia airport to Dallas.

Jennifer, who was seated by a window, was partially sucked out of the window, despite her seat belt. Fellow passengers managed to pull her back inside, but were not able to save her.

The 43-year-old bank executive and mother of two became the first person to die in an accident on a U.S. airline in nearly 10 years.

Michael told ABC News that he met Jennifer in a shopping mall 29 years ago when he was 17. She was 15.

When the doctor delivered the tragic news, Michael said, his first thought was of their two kids. "I immediately thought of the kids and how do you tell your kids their mom was gone," he said.

In the interview from his hometown of Albuquerque, Michael recalled how the tragic day unfolded and how he broke the news to their young children.

Michael said he drove to their school and brought them into a chapel.

"I just held their little hands and took a knee and said, 'Mommy's not going to come home guys,'" he said.

In an interview with CBS News, Riordan was asked what he wanted his children, Averie, 12, and Josh, 10, to hold onto when they think about their mother.

"Kind, loving, caring and sharing -- 100 percent -- and that's every decision we make is going to be based on that," he said. "When I have those four little eyes look at me thinking how we're going to get through, that's going to make me a better dad and a better husband and a better person."

He said the pair are carrying guardian angel coins handed out at a memorial service last weekend as a reminder that their mother is still looking out for them.

On Sunday, Michael told ABC that he felt the first peace since Jennifer's death as hundreds of people turned out to mourn her passing and express their love and affection for her.

Jennifer Riordan was well known in the Albuquerque area for an established career in community engagement and volunteerism. She served as vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo’s New Mexico operations.

She oversaw the company’s corporate giving program in New Mexico and volunteered her time with a number of area nonprofit groups and boards.

Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly called Jennifer's death a "tragic loss."

The investigation into the tragedy by the National Transportation Safety Board could take more than a year before teams can pinpoint the cause and offer safety recommendations.

Meanwhile, airlines have been ordered to quickly inspect engines like the one that failed on Flight 1380.