The girlfriend of the late Miami Marlins player Jose Fernandez said raising their newborn daughter brings her happiness, but she also feels the weight of her boyfriend's absence.
“You have days that you look at her, and you feel happiness and gratitude. And then there are other days where you feel afraid, and you feel lonely, and you feel the weight of his absence again,” Maria Arias said in an interview with People magazine this week.
"He makes such an impact in your life that his absence just feels so heavy."
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Last September, before the birth of their daughter, Fernandez was killed when his power-boat struck a rocky jetty in waters off Miami Beach. The crash instantly killed Fernandez and two other passengers on board – Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias.
After a six-month investigation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concluded that Fernandez had been driving the boat at the time of the crash and found traces of cocaine in his system. The investigation also found he had a blood alcohol level of .147, nearly twice the legal limit.
The two other passengers also had cocaine and alcohol in their systems, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office report.
Arias said her relationship with the MLB star "was definitely not love at first sight." The two met years ago through family, became fast friends, and eventually fell in love.
The couple learned they were expecting in June 2016, but Arias said she was scared initially, because the relationship was so new.
"He made me feel so good about the pregnancy that I didn’t care what I had to face," Arias said of Fernandez's excitement.
Arias gave birth to Penelope Jo Fernandez, a name selected by the newborn’s late father, on Feb. 24, surrounded by her mother and the late ballplayer’s mother.
"He loved her from the moment she was conceived," Arias said of their baby.
The new mother says she’s devoted to telling Penelope everything she can about her father.