Shattered John McAreavey’s parting gift to his murdered bride was a handwritten love letter he tucked into her hands as she lay in her coffin.
The distraught young widower penned his heartbreaking goodbye to his “angel” Michaela before placing it in the casket where she lay in her wedding dress.
The handwritten message was spotted by some of the mourners who turned up at Michaela’s family home last Saturday for her wake.
Those who did spot John’s letter could only see his opening line.
It read: “To my precious love ...”
Apart from John’s opening address to Michaela, the rest of the note’s contents remain secret between him and his tragic love who was strangled by thieves.
A few roses were also placed in Michaela’s coffin — and mourners at her wake couldn’t fail to spot the flowers, blood-red against her wedding dress.
The 27-year-old teacher had represented Ulster in the Rose of Tralee contest in 2004.
One woman at the wake who read the first line of John’s letter broke down in tears when she emerged from the family home in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.
She wept: “Let me tell you ... it was utterly heartbreaking. Some of the fellas in there would be tough but they’re in tears now.
“Nobody is ashamed of it because it’s just so sad. Nobody cared if they were crying out loud or not. They can’t help it.”
The pair were devoted to each other and were known by friends as ‘Mic and Mac’ because they were so close.
The farewell gifts placed in Michaela's coffin are just two signs of her family’s anguish.
Sunday Life has spoken to family friends who say the Hartes have been utterly devastated by the beautiful teacher’s senseless murder in Mauritius.
Close friends of the deeply religious family say they are battling to understand why the tragedy happened.
A wreath from Michaela’s family has been placed at her fresh grave at St Malachy’s in Ballymacilroy – the same Tyrone church where Michaela wed Down GAA footballer John on December 30.
Attached to the flowers was a note that said: “With treasured and loving memories of Michaela, from mummy and daddy, brothers Mark, Michael and Matthew and sisters-in-law Josephine and Sinead.”
Accountant John, 26, and Michaela’s devastated parents Mickey and Marian were still too devastated last week to talk publicly about their loss.
But pals told Sunday Life of their grief.
They revealed that:
- devastated John listened to songs played at his wedding as his wife’s body was brought home from Mauritius to Tyrone;
- the widower cannot bear to move into the home he bought with Michaela before they went on honeymoon;
- John is spending nights at Michaela’s parents home where she grew up; and
- Michaela’s devout Catholic dad is struggling to make sense of the loss of his only daughter.
Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte told one close friend: “If my loss inspires parents to give their children one more hug before bed time, it’ll bring me some comfort.”
A fifth man has now been charged in connection with Michaela’s murder at the sun-drenched Legends resort in Mauritius.
The raven-haired Irish language teacher was strangled after she kissed her husband on the cheek by the pool of their hotel and went to her honeymoon suite to get a packet of Rich Tea biscuits to have with her cup of tea — only to disturb burglars who killed her.
In a touching nod to Michaela’s love for them, tea and a packet of her favourite brand of biscuits were brought to the altar at her funeral as one of the symbols of her life.
Cops suspect two of her attackers held down her arms while another throttled the life out of her as tears streamed down her tanned face.
John discovered her bikini-clad body half-submerged in the bathtub of their hotel bedroom just before 3pm on Monday January 10, with the water still running.
Police suspect that Michaela’s killers placed her body in the bath in an attempt to wash her corpse of DNA evidence or make her death look like a drowning.
John made an agonising 17-hour journey from Mauritius to Tyrone with his wife’s body four days after her murder.
When the hearse carrying her coffin pulled up at her parents’ home, John was spotted listening to headphones in a black Mercedes, his head tilted back and eyes closed.
Last night a pal of Michaela’s family said: “He was listening to songs that
were played at his wedding.
“It was to drown out everything else.”
It is understood John and Michaela’s favourite song was the modern folk ballad Caledonia — which contains the lines: “In these last few days I’ve been afraid, That I might drift away.”
The beautiful song brought tears to the eyes of mourners when it was sung by Irish singer Mary Black at Michaela’s funeral.
Co Down GAA footballer John helped shoulder his wife’s coffin at the ceremony, and tenderly kissed its cold wood as he carried her final resting place.
Another of his pals told Sunday Life yesterday: “John is numb. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Everyone keeps texting him telling him our thoughts are with him.
“He doesn’t go into much detail in his replies. He just says ‘Thanks’.
“He hasn’t talked about his feelings towards his wife’s killers or how he is trying to come to terms with her death.
“All the attention is just starting to die down and he was so caught up in all that he hasn’t had time to think.
“When he does, the pain will really start.”
Michaela’s heartbroken dad Mickey is set to make his first appearance since the tragedy at a GAA match today – at Healy Park for the Dr McKenna Cup tie between Tyrone and Donegal.
Other family members are also expected to attend the 2pm game to support him.
Source: Sunday Life