Rose by Shawntel Newton
Excerpts from Final Rose by Shawntel Newton
(names changed for privacy)
The position Stephen was in would have been hard for any man. You have many beautiful women competing for your attention and you have to try and make every woman feel special. I learned to focus on what he and I had, and not what he had with the other girls. I noticed the girls who focused on everyone else’s but not their own relationship, messed up. They struggled and were sent home fast. I was confident in what I had with Stephen.
The week in Anguilla was one of the hardest weeks for myself and the remaining five girls. We were all at the point where we had developed feelings for Stephen and had nothing else we wanted to share with each other. No one wanted to hear about how much we were falling for him. We kept really quiet that week. Since we had spent a lot of time together, I became close to another girl who was still on the show. We kept a friendly distance, though, because we were both vying for the same guy. We knew that no matter what happened, we would remain friends after the show.
On the last day in Anguilla, we found out two more girls were going home and the remaining four would bring Stephen back to our hometowns. I became one of the top four.
The four of us were separated at this point, which we were happy about because we had nothing more we wanted to share with each other. It was becoming way too difficult to talk about our feelings.
Once we arrived in the states I gathered my thoughts about everything. I was getting anxious to see my family. It was around seven weeks since I spoke to anyone I truly loved. I knew the feelings I had for Stephen were real--they weren’t influenced by anyone but myself. It was all me and I could not wait until Stephen met my family.
Three sheriff’s deputies approached and directed me to park the removal van on the front lawn near the car. We removed the gurney from the van and took out the body bag. Half of the young man’s body was in the car and the other half on the ground. I had never seen something like this. It was my first car accident call involving an unrecognizable body. There was a strong smell of alcohol around the car. Apparently the young man was going about 85 mph and spun out of control in the rain; rolled into the fence, and died upon impact.
The deputies told me he had a wife and minor children. I jotted down as much information as I could, then transferred the mutilated body to the funeral home. The next morning at 8:30 I was at work reviewing the information. I told the other funeral directors and staff his body is not viewable and we will be hearing from his wife sometime that day to go over arrangements.
Around 9:00 a.m. we were called by the frantic wife who was in denial that her husband died. She demanded to see him right away. This is a normal reaction—a family in denial about an accidental death and wants to view the body for proof it happened. It’s completely understandable. I asked the wife to come to the funeral home and we would talk over things. She arrived, rightfully hysterical, with her children. I sat her down and explained I had been on the call and was at the accident scene and, due to the circumstances; her husband’s body was not viewable or recognizable. This was not a concern to the widow; she demanded to see her husband despite the condition of his body. As a funeral director I wanted to prepare her for what she was about to see, and that I was only going to expose his hands. I also told her he has a tattoo on his left hand and she would be able to see it. I asked my dad to come into the prep room and help me place the young man’s body on a dressing table, take his hands out of the body bag, and cover the rest with a sheet.
We placed him in our viewing room and I went into the arrangement office where the widow was pacing back and forth. I took her into the viewing room while her children stayed behind with her sister. I told her I would remain in the room with her if she wanted (also, I wanted to make sure that she did not pull down the sheet). She entered the viewing room and started screaming. I shut the door behind us. She walked over to her husband’s body and touched his cold hands. She pointed out the tattoo on his left hand and whispered, “This is my husband.” I told her to take her time. She turned to me and explained what happened the night of the accident.
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