'They were planning their life together. That's now destroyed'
Published 12/01/2011 | 05:00
MICHAELA and football made his world go around. But John McAreavey faces a lonely journey back to Ireland with his wife's body in a coffin.
The couple will never grow old together. They have been robbed of the chance to raise a family together.
Michaela was always a bubbly girl but even family friend Tony Donnelly noticed her overflowing happiness on her wedding day.
"When I came out of the chapel after the wedding, I said 'Michaela, you smiled all during the ceremony'. And she said 'why not, it's the happiest day of my life'."
Mr Donnelly, who is assistant manager of the Tyrone senior football team said: "She brought real joy and happiness wherever she went, she was a real people's person.
"I know John's whole life revolved around football and Michaela. They were the two things he loved and talked about most," said Jim McAlinden, principal of St Malachy's school where Michaela attended as a child.
Mr McAlinden knows John from his own parish. "I remember when they were studying together, Michaela would travel with John to watch his games. He married the girl of his dreams. It is just devastating -- from the shock of losing Michaela, to the reality of how this happened.
"They were saving and planning and looking forward to their whole lives together. That's now destroyed."
In Laurence town, a few miles from Banbridge in Co Down, the community was deeply shocked. This was the place where Michaela and John had decided to settle into married life.
Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey married Michaela to his nephew. He said the young footballer was devastated by her death.
"She was the love of his life, absolutely and truly. He adored her and talked about her with such warmth.
"He loved everything about her: her faith, her personality, her love for things Gaelic and Irish, her sparkle. I have a sense that a light has gone out with the death of Michaela."