If you are just joining me now for the first time…welcome! Before you continue on, refer to my first blog post The Beginning Pt.1 and start my story from “The Beginning”.
We landed in Utah Friday afternoon on March 27th, 2015. Everything I saw in Utah reminded me of him. Whether it was the exit off the freeway where his apartment was or the Mexican place we would go to at 3 am to get breakfast burritos. My heart ached and the flashbacks were constant.
Later that evening I was headed over to Arik’s parent’s house where they were having a viewing for family and very close friends. My anxiety was at an all-time high as we got off the exit to head to his house.
We started driving up the driveway and there were about ten guys sitting outside on the steps of the house with their heads slumped down, crying into their hands. I started panicking. It was all too real- I felt pretty calm up until this point and then, in an instant I was terrified. It’s not every day that you see grown men sobbing into their hands.
We got out of the car and headed to the side of the house where Arik’s dad said he would let me in since I didn’t want to see Arik in the open casket. My dad, mom, and sister (Lauren) were with me. Arik’s dad comes out of the side door and hugs me for a good minute or so and I started crying. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember he was saying kind things in my ear as he was hugging me.
My mom, sister, and dad hugged Arik’s dad as well. My dad even started crying and was telling him how he was so sorry for his loss. Then my family left me there so I could have some time with Arik’s family and… Arik.
THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
I went into the house (still crying) and met a lot of Arik’s family. The weird thing was that the vibe in Arik’s house with his family was happy. It was more of a celebration. I felt like I was there for a birthday party, rather than a viewing, which made me feel a lot better. We were sharing memories and laughing and honestly having a good time.
Arik’s younger brother came up to me and handed me Arik’s dog tag (necklace) that he was wearing at the time of the crash. It was the dog tag that he had gotten for his birthday the year before, which I got engraved for him with our significant/special dates in our relationship. It was something that was so special for me to have.
After about an hour, Arik’s parents invited me into their back office to chat without everyone around. I told them I found out the gender of the baby, and I asked them what they thought the baby was. Arik’s mom said, “a boy” and I responded with “yes” and showed them the new ultrasound pictures.
We chatted for about thirty or so minutes and then we headed back out with all of the other family members. Then, when all of the other people who came to see Arik left, they closed his casket so I could go in there. As soon as it was time for me to go into that room with Arik I started panicking all over again… because again, this was real.
THE LAST WORDS
Arik’s parents were on each side of me holding my arms walking me to the viewing room as I was bawling my eyes out. They let me in the room, then closed the door so I could be alone with him. I sat in the chair next to his casket. Part of me wanted to just lift the casket door up and climb in next to him, but I couldn’t bear to see him dead.
I wanted to remember him for the fun, smart ass witty guy he was… and not like this, in a dark and dreary casket. I had my arms on the casket basically hugging onto it as I sobbed and told him that we were having a baby boy. I told him that I loved him so much and that I was so sorry for everything that I said to him. I also told him that I forgave him for everything that happened.
I would have given ANYTHING just to see him again. I remember being in that room just wanting to see him more than anything, and just to know that he was ok up there. I was in the room for about twenty minutes or so, and then I kissed his casket and said my final “in person” goodbye.
I left his house actually feeling a lot better than when I first showed up. Everyone was so positive and kind to me. My parents were a little worried how I would be after the viewing but were surprised that I was actually in a better mood when I got back in the car to head back to my sister’s house.
We got back to my sister’s house, and I started walking through the hall. I could see in the reflection of the pictures on her wall that there were people in the room. I kept walking, to find my whole tennis team in my sisters living room. It was such a sweet surprise and so nice to have so much support from my friends during such a difficult time.
March 28th, 2015 I woke up feeling nervous. It was the day of the funeral. I woke up and put on my brand new black dress my mom got me for the funeral. “Was this really happening for real?” I think I was just in shock, going through the motions of getting ready and not even really thinking that I was going to my boyfriends funeral.
Then we drove to the church building the funeral was held at. We were there 20 minutes early and the parking lot was already completely full to where we had to park far down the street. We walked in and there were flowers and baseballs for people to write notes on. I just walked right in so that we could get a good seat. There were SO many people that finding a seat was difficult. I ended up sitting near the back of the church.
In the main area, there were big blown-up photos of Arik. They were all photos of him playing baseball his senior year. Before the funeral even started I burst into tears just looking around at all of the photos of him. People around me started to stare. I assume I wasn’t sitting around people who were super close with Arik because no one near me cried or showed much emotion throughout the service but like I said, I was more towards the back.
Truthfully, the funeral went well. To be honest, most of it was a blur because I was so distraught. I cried through 90% of it. My mom tried to calm me down through a lot of it because usually when I started crying it turned into one of those cries where you can’t catch your breath.
Arik’s younger brother also spoke at the funeral and to be honest I think he was the best speaker of the day. It was funny but also super sincere and touching. He was only 16 at the time I believe.
The funeral ended with the song “How Great Thou Art” and it was beautiful. A man sang it at the podium. It brought most people to tears, I cried the entire duration of the song.
Once the funeral ended I saw Arik’s ex-girlfriend, she came to the funeral despite Arik’s parents wishes that she wouldn’t. Before we arrived at the funeral my dad asked me if I would be open to getting lunch with Arik’s ex and her mom a day after the funeral and I said sure. I actually had talked to her on the phone a few days before Arik passed away because my dad wanted me to… mainly so that I could hear what she had to say about her past relationship with Arik.
She came up to me at the funeral with her little baby and she was really sweet to me about everything. It was just so strange to me that now Arik was gone, I was more involved in his life and past than ever.
I was talking with Arik’s ex-girlfriend for a little bit when someone grabbed me and told me that Arik’s parents were looking for me. They wanted me to be with them as the Hearse took away Arik’s body. I went outside and watched while hugging Arik’s mom and crying- as we saw the hearse leave. It was so difficult. It was truly the last goodbye.
After the hearse drove away everyone from the funeral was outside socializing. I had so many people come up to me and introduce themselves. There were friends, family, and many others who expressed their condolences to me, but then someone came up to me that I never anticipated… Arik’s biological mother.
Yes, I have not mentioned this before, Arik was adopted. We talked about it a lot throughout our relationship. He told me that he met his biological mom at 17 but he never truly cared to meet his biological father. I heard Arik’s biological father was at the funeral as well, but I never saw him.
I never knew what Arik’s biological mom looked like, so it caught me off guard when she came up to me and introduced herself. I didn’t even know she would be at his funeral, let alone know who I was.
After socializing with friends and family we headed to a lunch that Arik’s family invited us to at a different church building. I really don’t know how Arik’s parents held it together so well, I am guessing they were just in a mix of survival mode and shock.
At the lunch, I would randomly zone out and start bawling. At this point, I was too sad to ever feel embarrassed about it. Constantly crying throughout the day my fake eyelashes started peeling off my eyes. I honestly looked like a hot mess… and above all, I was constantly sucking in all day just to avoid anyone seeing that I had a slight bump. I didn’t want to deal with the drama and unnecessary attention that showing I’m pregnant would bring me so soon. I wanted to keep it all private.
Later that night after the funeral, one of my girlfriends wanted to hang out while I was still in Utah. She wanted to get me out so I could get my mind off things. We went out with two other guy friends to the canyon to let off lanterns.
It was so sweet, they planned this all for me. Basically to say goodbye to Arik in a meaningful way. I wrote on my white paper lantern. I remember in small writing I told him to watch over our baby boy. Then I let my lantern off into the dark night sky.
The day after the funeral I was just going through the motions. We went to lunch with Arik’s ex-girlfriend, her mom, and her stepdad. My dad kind of became friends with them since he contacted them previously for information on Arik. I put on a brave face but I was completely numb inside. I can’t even tell you one word that was said at that lunch because I wasn’t mentally present. I was there in the flesh but my mind was constantly somewhere else.
March 31st, 2015 we left Utah and went back home to California. I had gone through the first three stages of grief… denial, anger, bargaining, and now I was about to hit stage four. Which was the absolute hardest of them all…depression.
To be continued…
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