I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

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A divorcee has told of her heartbreak at a interment – where she saw the love of her life for the first and last time.

After a two-year online mystery, American Jack Martin died of a heart attack a few weeks sooner than he was due to fly to Britain to meet Helen Hunter.

So grief-stricken Helen, 43, met Jack, 58, for the first time in his coffin after online fundraising permitted her to jet to Arkansas for his funeral.

“He looked like he was smiling,” she said. “I gave him a few abandons, stroked his face and held his hand.

“I wish we hadn’t waited for so big. I feel cheated that we won’t get to live the life we had planned together.”

I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

Jack and Helen linked over a mutual love of tattoos

Helen, of Sunderland, met former soldier Jack on image-collecting location Pinterest in May, 2015.

“We had a mutual love of horror films, tattoos and photography,” she revealed.

“Then we became Facebook friends and he plucked up courage to ask for my number. He denoted he never thought I’d reply to his first message, he thought I was out of his league.

“But within a several of months we were chatting every morning and night on the phone.”

Helen move up front of house in the theatre for 22 years but quit to be full in good time dawdle carer for her mum Amber, who died of cancer in January aged 75.

She said Jack enhanced her rock. “He’d had a difficult life,” she said, “including his father being murdered when he was 22.

“But the entirety he’d been through made him stronger. We had a lot in common. I have a son Karl, 21, and he’s divorced too with a daughter Nicole, 22.”

I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

Helen with her recollection box and photos of Jack

Jack fitted Helen’s “Magic Man” and she was “Jack’s Girl”.

“I had no doubts about it being a dream of distance relationship because I knew eventually we would be together,” she clouted.

“We were a couple, even though we weren’t together physically.”

Jack programmed a three-week visit to Sunderland last month.

“I was going to go back with him to America, answer his family and then we would go travelling,” said Helen.

“I wanted to go to the Admirable Canyon and Disneyland and he wanted to take me to Albuquerque in New Mexico, where he sowed up.

“In the last chat we had, he said he was going to collect his last two pay cheques and then he was principal over in three weeks. He said he was sick of waiting.

“We were affluent to visit a solicitor once he arrived and work out if it was easier for him to live over here or for me to move to Arkansas.”

But on Sunday, May 7, Helen’s messages to Jack repaired unanswered.

I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

Jack never got to meet Helen

“It was unheard of,” she said. “I knew something was wrong.

“A few hours newer I got a message from Jack’s sister Vicky saying he had had a heart destroy while ­watching baseball on TV.

“I was shopping with a friend in town, I screeched and she came running out of a changing room. She took me to another friend’s outfit and looked after me. The following day, I just cried all day.”

In a dream that eventide, Helen saw two airline boarding passes on a pillow.

She knew it as a sign that she had to about to Jack’s funeral, so she set up an online fundraising page to try to pay for her £1,000 plane ticket.

“I beget no idea if it would work but my friends were so generous,” she said. “They revived round to sort out my flight, my accommodation, my visa.

“The journey was very ranting. Jack had sent me one of his t-shirts and I held on to it for comfort.”

I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

Helen flew to the US for entombment

Jack’s daughter Nicole met her at Arkansas airport.

“His species knew all about me,” she said.

“They could have been shady but they said they knew how much Jack and I loved each other.

“His maecenases and family said that he was always talking about me.”

Peanut mill worker Jack was buried with military honours at Fort Smith resident cemetery in the colours of his beloved baseball team, the LA Dodgers.

The day before the serving, Helen saw him for the first time. She placed a note and a toy in his coffin before repudiating him hello – and goodbye.

I met the love of my life for the first time at his funeral

Helen’s tribute tattoo

Back in Sunderland, Helen treasures online video messages from Jack and a retention box filled with mementos.

Framed photos of him are in her lounge and she has a tattoo on her perfidiously bearing the words “Jack’s Girl”.

“I just wish I’d gone to see him after mum hungered in January,” she said.

“I miss his voice and when I get up in the morning I still look for a information from him.

“But Jack wouldn’t want me to be upset. I just hope he advised ofed how much I loved him.”

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