Craig Strickland’s Widow on Their Last Conversation: ‘He Walked Out the Door, Looked at Me and Said, “I Love You”‘

Helen Strickland has opened up about her final moments with her late husband Craig Strickland before he left for the hunting trip that claimed his life and that of his friend Chase Morland.

“We laid on the couch and I rubbed his chest and we talked,” Strickland, 27, told CNN Thursday. “And we talked about Harry Potter – because I love Harry Potter – and joked. He walked out the door and looked at me and said, ‘I love you’ and blew me a kiss and said, ‘I’ll talk to you soon’ and walked out. I wouldn’t change anything about that.”

The former Miss Arkansas USA also admitted that her husband might not have had the best judgment when it came to his passion for hunting.

“Craig really had no sense of what not to do sometimes – when it came to duck hunting at least,” she said. “Not everybody knows about duck hunting, but winter weather is the best time to go… I think he looked at that time and he looked at that storm and as his friends said, he knew the ducks were coming in, he knew they were going to be there – it’s more than just trying to shoot ducks.

She continued, “What Craig loved more than anything … he got to spend time with his friends or his family or whoever he got to take with him. For him, seeing that winter storm, he knew it would make an awesome story and [he would] be able to spend that time with Chase, who he was starting to mentor. I think that was what he was thinking when he saw Goliath on the map.”

Morland had tweeted an ominous message foreshadowing the tragic turn of events, which Strickland then retweeted.

“In case we don’t come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm,” Morland wrote in the early morning hours on Dec. 27.

Though Strickland says she’s staying strong and leaning on family while coping with her heartbreaking loss.

“We’re actually doing a lot better than people were expecting. More than any of us could ever expect,” she said. “His sisters rode down with me to Little Rock and we talked about that a little bit, how God just helped us get through this. Everybody sharing their love for Craig and telling us how much they loved him helps us get through this really difficult time. We’re dealing with this as a family.

Adds Strickland, “It really comes down to realizing it’s all in God’s hands and there’s a reason for all of this. Instead of letting it hurt us, we’re going to try and do something good with that.”

A memorial service for Craig Strickland will be held Tuesday at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

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