'The Bachelorette' Finale: Michelle Tearfully Sends Her Runner-Up Home
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Michelle Young's last goodbye was her hardest. On Tuesday's season finale of The Bachelorette, Michelle tearfully broke up with Brandon, the fan-favorite traveling nurse recruiter.
The emotional moment came after Brandon and Michelle spent another afternoon with Michelle's parents, Ephraim and LaVonne.
He'd previously met the Youngs during a date in Michelle's native Minnesota, when they walked in on him and Michelle in a hot tub together. Despite the awkward first encounter, Brandon went on to impress Michelle's parents, especially when he asked for their permission to pop the question should he have the opportunity.
Their fondness toward him continued on Tuesday's episode, when Brandon showed up with flowers for LaVonne and swim trunks for Ephraim, whose trunks he borrowed during their hometown meeting.
After pulling Brandon to the side, Michelle's father asks him about how he plans to support the ambitious teacher as she works towards continuing her education in hopes of becoming a principal one day, and if jealousy will factor into Michelle potentially being the more powerful one in the relationship.
"I think the best thing for me, is that my mom, in my family, is the powerful woman and the one who has dreams and ambitions and everything like that," Brandon answers, telling Ephraim that he has every intention to support Michelle's dreams and ambitions. "So that's something that doesn't bother me, whatsoever. I support Michelle. I know she has ambitions and dreams, and I know she would support mine, just as much as I support hers."
With that question out of the way, Brandon had one of his own.
"How would you feel if I were to be the one to marry your daughter?" an eager Brandon asks.
"If she picks you, we would gladly adopt you into our family," Ephraim reveals to Brandon's delight. "I mean, no questions asked. So, welcome."
"He would be accepted as a member into the family, if he is the person of choice," Ephraim continues, speaking to the camera. "Let's hope that LaVonne, my wife, feels the same way."
Michelle's mother had a few questions of her own for Brandon, specifically how he feels about relocating to Minnesota to be with her daughter.
"I would definitely move to Minnesota and start a life there," Brandon says, before telling LaVonne that working remotely will allow him to work from the midwestern state.
"I want to become a part of your guys' family so bad," he expresses. And he's not alone in that thought, with Michelle's mom sharing that she would be just as happy to have him.
"I would be so happy about that," LaVonne tells Brandon. "I really would. I want someone who's genuine. Somebody who will put her first. And I can see it in your eyes that you really love her, and you would be welcome in the family."
"I just want to marry her so bad," an emotional Brandon echoes, kicking off the water works for LaVonne in the process. "I want that for you too," she replies, wiping away her tears. "There's still someone else here too, but I would be so happy if you're here in the end."
LaVonne echoed that sentiment to her daughter, telling Michelle that at the end of the day, she just wants her to find a best friend like she was able to find in her husband.
"I could really picture Brandon being her best friend," LaVonne tells the cameras. "I feel like Ephraim and I are best friends, and I want that for her. I know he loves her, I can see it in his eyes and he really has won my heart."
Things only seemed to get better for Michelle and Brandon during their fun, final date together on the beach. The pair rode jet skis and spent time on the sand as they continued building their connection following Brandon's confession of love during their Fantasy Suite date.
"I don't know if my family has ever liked someone that much...they're easy to get along with, but they loved you," Michelle tells Brandon about their second family get-together. "My mom got emotional."
"We had a really, really good conversation. And she was like, 'I want you to be there at the end,'" Brandon adds before praising Michelle's parents. "And your dad has the most contagious laugh...I see where you have that quality where you make someone feel so incredibly special, and you get it from them."
It's the relationship Michelle plans to model her own after, with the educator telling Brandon that she won't stop until she finds something like what her parents have.
"When I look at the relationships in my family with, like, my mom and dad, I've seen them work through some really difficult things," she explains. "And, when you see someone at their hardest time and you see this couple and how they navigate those different things with each other and how they are able to communicate about it, it's something that then I'm like, 'OK, that is a huge part of why their relationships are successful, and I am not going to stop until I find that.'"
Brandon promises to be just that for Michelle, telling her that he wants to go through both the good and bad times by her side.
"And that's why I'm in love with you, because I face things with love rather than anger and try to understand your point of view. I know you'd be the person to do that with me. All the bad and terrible days we're eventually going to have to go through, I don't want to do it with anyone else other than you. I'm crazy about you," he says, giving Michelle a kiss, before the pair continue their date into the night.
As they reminisce on their journey, Brandon brings it full circle, gifting Michelle with the sweater he wore when the pair had their first Fantasy Suite date together. It wasn't quite the same sweater though, with Michelle spilling food all over the old one during the couple's playful food fight. The touching moment quickly becomes Michelle's favorite along their journey.
"This is my favorite moment now that we've had together," she confesses, before telling the camera about the little things Brandon's done to have her falling for the traveling nurse recruiter.
With their journey coming to a close, Brandon takes the time to once again pour his heart out to Michelle.
"I love you. I just love you," he gushes.
"Well, there has been something that's been weighing on me," Michelle confesses in response. "You've been so vulnerable with me and you've been open with me about how deeply you love, and so, I want to make sure where I'm at with everything. I really am not falling in love, I feel like I'm already in love with you, and you make me feel very loved and I want to make sure that you know, how much I care about you, and I do, I really am in love with you."
After sharing that this is the love she has been looking for, Brandon's fate with Michelle seems to be sealed.
Brandon was ready to pop the question, but ultimately, Michelle didn't feel the same. The decision wasn't easy for Michelle, though, as she was overcome with emotion as she broke Brandon's heart.
"I have truly never met somebody like you. And I meant what I said with loving you. But, I promised myself that I would follow my heart," Michelle tells Brandon, before explaining her decision. "And it's not that I don't love you, because I do, it's just that my heart is in a different direction, and I have to go with what I feel. But it hurts so much because you are such an unbelievable person."
She continues, "I need you to know how much I care about you and that doesn't just get turned off, and I need you to know. I feel like you truly will always have a piece of my heart, Brandon. And I'm sorry that I can't walk with you on this journey."
Brandon was devastated with Michelle's decision, saying, "I truly wish you nothing by happiness. I truly mean it, even if it's not with me. You've been worth it, every second, giving you my heart was worth it. It's something that I'll never regret, and I will always be here for you."
The pair reunited for the first time on After the Final Rose, where Brandon asked Michelle for clarity on where things went wrong between them.
"Honestly, I mean, I don't really know what to say," Brandon begins. "I'm not gonna lie, I prepared for this moment. I thought about it a million times. I think that me, personally, I'd rather listen to you and I'd rather hear your side, 'cause, I mean, what I saw, I guess I have my own views and opinions, but I'd rather hear your side so I can get the whole, clarity and then talk moving forward."
He continues, "I guess I just wanted to know the disconnect and what was going through your mind. 'Cause I know there was a lot that didn't happen or didn't show.
After listening to Brandon, Michelle explains how she came to be in love with both him and Nayte, something she did not think was possible for her to do.
"This whole process, and coming into it, I knew that I was able to give it everything, but I didn't truly believe that I would be one of those people who would be able to fall in love with two people. That's just not something that I ever thought was possible. And as this whole story unfolds, you see that when you are giving 100 percent, like I said that I was going to from the very beginning. It's very possible and it's hard because of that," Michelle shares. "And, as these days were winding down, and as I shared my thoughts and feelings, those were my true, honest thoughts and feelings. I cared and I do care about your feelings, about you as a person. And, my decision to share that I was in love with you, I wasn't sharing that because I already made a decision, it was something that I had been holding back. And because I didn't think I was capable of falling in love with two people, it was really hard for me to honestly come out and talk about that."
After praising Brandon for his honesty and vulnerability throughout the process, Michelle stresses that she truly didn't know who she was going to choose when she told Brandon she loved him, assuring him that she always had his feelings in mind, even during their heart-wrenching breakup.
"Going home, I wasn't OK," Brandon admits. "Thank god for everyone, but I prepared myself by watching it, because I knew I was going to have to watch it. I knew I was going to have to face you at some point. Honestly, I thank you. Just 'cause, I've never been that vulnerable in a relationship in my entire life. Usually, I am reserved. Usually, I don't show emotion because I don't know where it's going to go yet or where it's gonna lead to. To me, it was hard watching because I was so truly in love with you. I was beyond in love with you. I was in love with your family and everything that came with that."
Even though Brandon was thankful for the experience, he felt like his love for Michelle was overlooked.
"In a way, on the other side, I felt a little bit like my love was overlooked," he explains. "But I also, I didn't know the full story. I only knew my portion. I only knew my part. That last day was tough, and I knew you were gonna break my heart, 'cause unfortunately with you I knew that. You show your emotion through your eyes. Everything you do, you show it through your eyes. And when I walked up, I saw that your heart was pointing in a different direction. At the end of the day, I do wish you the best, and I wish you guys a happy, happy life together."
Michelle's journey for love has come to an end. The Bachelor franchise will return on Jan. 3 with the premiere of Clayton Echard's season of The Bachelor. ET will keep you up to date all season long, with all of our Bachelor coverage.
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