Pro­posal Ended in Fu­neral

Danielle and Craig were plan­ning their fu­ture – then tragedy struck

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS - Danielle Eyles, 26, Southend-on-sea, Es­sex

lock­ing my front door, I heard some­one give me a wolf whis­tle. ‘Morn­ing gor­geous!’ It was Craig Voyce – he was 14, and his fam­ily had just moved in across the road.

A right Jack the Lad, ev­ery­one knew him.

I ig­nored him, rolled my eyes. I was two years older, with a boyfriend.

Not in­ter­ested!

Still Craig winked, blew kisses. Boys, eh?!

Then one day, two years later, Craig sent a flirty mes­sage on Face­book.

‘He hasn’t changed,’ I thought, chuck­ling to my­self.

But I replied.

We started chat­ting after that, then hang­ing out.

Craig had the gift of the gab – but he was sweet and kind, too.

Be­fore I knew it, I’d fallen in love with the an­noy­ing boy across the road!

Months later, I moved in with his fam­ily.

‘I’m go­ing to put a ring on your fin­ger and a baby in your belly,’ Craig teased. Charm­ing! Mar­riage and kids hadn’t been on my radar.

But now I’d met Craig, it was all I wanted.

In Novem­ber 2011, we had our first baby.

Rocky-lee was a com­plete surprise to us.

Craig was only 18 but doted on his son.

And when Rocky

Lee was 1, I fell preg­nant again.

We moved into our own place in Southend.

Soon, I had Craig Ju­nior, now 3, and then Sum­merRose, 2.

‘You’ve put three ba­bies my belly, so where’s my ring?’ I laughed jok­ingly. ‘One day!’ Craig winked. The house was hec­tic, but I loved every sec­ond.

Es­pe­cially at Christ­mas time!

On Box­ing Day 2015, all the fam­i­lies were to­gether.

After lunch, I no­ticed ev­ery­one was fid­get­ing.

My dad Tony nudged Craig. ‘Go on, Son, do it now,’ he whis­pered a bit too loudly!

Craig stood up, pulling

A right Jack the Lad, ev­ery­one knew him!

me to my feet, too. And sud­denly ev­ery­one whipped out their mo­biles.

Craig took my hand. ‘Marry me?’ he squeaked. ‘Yes!’ I screamed, and ev­ery­one cheered.

Soon, every wak­ing mo­ment was spent wed­ding plan­ning. I wanted every thing big. Big dress, big buf­fet, big bar…

And to be sur­rounded by our fam­ily and friends.

‘It’ll be per­fect,’ Craig smiled. He could be a soppy devil.

Empty bed

On 28 Oc­to­ber 2016, Craig an­nounced he was hav­ing a night out with the lads.

‘I won’t be too late,’ he said, danc­ing round the kitchen with Sum­mer-rose.

‘Be care­ful,’ I said as he snatched up his mo­tor­cy­cle

hel­met and went out the door.

Ear­lier that year, he’d bro­ken both his legs in a crash.

‘Don’t worry,’ Craig said, kiss­ing me. ‘Love you.’

He still wasn’t back when I went to bed...

The kids had worn me out! But, at 1.30am,

I awoke sud­denly. The bed was empty.

I looked at my phone, which had been on silent.

I had 20 missed calls from my par­ents and Craig’s.

Just then, Craig’s dad Robert called.

‘Craig’s had an ac­ci­dent,’ he said. ‘You need to come to hos­pi­tal.’

My stom­ach flipped as he told me that Craig had been in a col­li­sion with a hit-and-run driver.

He’d been air­lifted, un­con­scious, to Lon­don’s Royal Free Hos­pi­tal

– 90 min­utes away – with se­vere head in­juries.

Fran­tic, I ar­ranged for the kids to go to my aunt’s house.

Then my mum Karen picked me up.

An hour into the jour­ney, Robert called me again. ‘He’s gone, Danielle,’ he sobbed.

My world stopped still.

‘No,’ I screamed. I’d lost ev­ery­thing.

When we got to the hos­pi­tal half an hour later, I felt numb.

Craig’s fam­ily crowded around his hos­pi­tal bed.

He was bat­tered and bruised, wires ev­ery­where.

I waited for him to wake up and wink and tell me it was all a joke.

But it wasn’t.

I sat for hours stroking his hair, hold­ing his hand.

Craig was just 23 years old. A daddy of three. My soul­mate.

Doc­tors turned off his life­sup­port, there was noth­ing more they could do.

We’d had our whole lives planned, to­gether.

But later that day, I made my way home. Alone.

The kids asked where Daddy was.

‘He’s in heaven now, he’s the bright­est star in the sky,’ I told them.

They were too young to really un­der­stand.

In­stead of a wed­ding, I planned my fi­ance’s fu­neral.

More than 100 peo­ple turned up, but it didn’t feel real.

Life’s on hold

Christ­mas passed in a blur.

Fam­ily ral­lied round and, to­gether, we did our best for the kids.

But in the midst of the smiles and gifts and Christ­mas songs, I’d never felt so alone.

The pain didn’t ease, just grew more fa­mil­iar as the fol­low­ing year moved on.

This July, the other driver in­volved in the col­li­sion ad­mit­ted fail­ing to stop at a road traf­fic ac­ci­dent, but he wasn’t to blame for the crash.

Craig had been driv­ing too fast. And paid with his life. For us, life still feels on hold. I still wear Craig’s en­gage­ment ring. Haven’t even changed my Face­book sta­tus.

I’m dreading Christ­mas with­out him.

This year it’s just me and the kids.

I’ll put on a brave face, shower them with love and presents.

But in­side, I’ll be pin­ing for the Jack the Lad who stole my heart. Their daddy.

I’ve told them he’s a star In the sky now... I waited for him to wake up, tell me it was all a joke...

His surprise Box­ing Day pro­posal!

My love, my soul­mate: Craig

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