CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio's Rick Leach Jr. was one of four men who was sent home by Michelle Young on last night's airing of ABC's The Bachelorette.
Michelle, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher, will now meet the families of the four remaining men vying for her love, after Rick did not get a rose at the elimination ceremony during episode 6 of season 30 of the reality dating competition show.
"It's painful," Rick said, after being sent home. "I could see myself introducing Michelle to my mother and brother. I haven't met many people like Michelle in my life."
But that was not in the cards for the 32-year-old graduate student, who shared in a caption on Instagram on Wednesday that it was "a tough day to watch the ending to my journey on The Bachelorette."
Rick continued in his post: "The journey provided an amazing opportunity to meet a beautiful woman who made me feel things I haven’t felt in a very long time. I was fortunate to also meet some incredible men with huge hearts of gold. I loved every minute of it and loved the moments I got to share with Michelle.
"I cannot thank everyone enough who took some part along this journey. That includes everyone who has commented, messaged me, text me and called me expressing words of encouragement and compliments. It has been overwhelming but I am so thankful for all of it. Thank you Bachelor Nation."
Rather than whisk Michelle off to see the charm of his hometown, Rick spent his final date with Michelle on a date planned by her students, alongside five other men.
Throughout the course of the day, the guys competed against each other by shoveling mud, milking cows and churning butter, before ending their evening together with group hay ride and cocktails.
Those were the last moments the two got to spend together, because Michelle canceled the customary cocktail party before the rose ceremony, leaving The Bachelorette hosts Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams to deliver the news that she knew who would be staying and who she would be saying goodbye to.
When we last saw Rick speaking with Michelle following the group date hayride, it seemed as though their relationship was in a comfortable place and that the medical sales representative would be introducing the Minnesota native to family, and possible to the Northeast Ohio area.
During their brief one-on-chat after the farm-themed date, Rick told Michelle that he was was ready to take their relationship to the next level.
"You said leave it all out there tonight, and I just want to make sure I cover all that, because I don't have any doubts about it," Rick told Michelle.
In response, she told Rick, who is currently living in Los Angeles while he works toward earning an MBA at Loyola Marymount University: "I feel like time spent with you has been very natural and you joke around with me, but you're serious, and I do... I like who are."
Unfortunately, that didn't translate for Michelle into feeling ready to meet Rick's family, and to introduce Rick to her parents.
When Rick wasn't offered a rose at the elimination ceremony, he approached Michelle to say goodbye with tears in his eyes.
"Thank you, this has been an amazing experience, an amazing experience, and it's changed me," he told her.
Michelle appeared to have misty eyes of her own, saying to Rick: "This is really hard to say goodbye to you because I need you to know that I care about you so much."
Rick told her he felt the same, and the two hugged before he wished her good luck and cameras showed Rick walking himself out, and taking a lonely stroll.
"I thought she was a person I could spend my life, create a family with," Rick said. "I pray that she finds someone who will treat her right to the end of their days. And I pray that I find that too."
Rick had previously shared with Michelle on their one-on-one hiking date that he has had difficulty opening up to women in the past, but that she had made it feel easy.
The next time we see Rick on national television will likely be at the "Men Tell All" special, before the season finale of The Bachelorette.
Between now and then, watch for Rick as a guest on my "3 Things to Know with Stephanie Haney" podcast, where we'll get answers to all of the questions about what was left on the cutting room floor in the tale of his journey for love.