(Thank you for all the comments. I can't bring myself to answer them individually, but I appreciated every single one.)
Three days ago, I wrote my husband's obituary. The day before that, I visited his body at the mortuary and selected a small stone vase in which to keep a portion of his ashes, awaiting the day they will join mine. A week before that, I left him alive at the hospital to pick up Bug from daycare, and returned to find him already gone.
In the nearly nine years we were together, I wondered if we'd make it for the long haul. I considered taking him out of the world myself on more than one occasion. I never thought he'd have to go so soon.
Here are some of the reasons I loved him:
We met on the internet. He told me all the sordid details of his past and never left anything out. His utter honesty, as much as his great personality, made our relationship work.
He would try almost anything once.
He loved me to distraction and routinely tried to find ways to make me happy. They knew him by name at the quilt shop because, despite all the complaining about my quilting and how much my fabric cost, he bought me a big ol' gift certificate for my birthday one year and never let on that he'd done so when I dragged him back there later in the day (the day before my birthday) to buy thread.
He viewed the fact that I cared for him and cooked for him during his illness as a huge gift and bragged about me to anyone who would listen.
He gave everyone a second (and third, and fourth...) chance to do the right thing.
He was a dreamer.
He worked his ass off all the time, mostly because that was how he took care of me and the boys.
He partied hard for most of his life, and at age 35 got straight and sober. He still bought me beer and knew where his friends could get the best weed when they came to visit, should they be inclined.
He travelled back to Montana frequently to help his dad replace his roof, because Dad had started the project when Rick was still living there and he'd told Dad he'd help. Didn't matter that he lived 1500 miles away; he'd said he'd help.
After his mom fell, he went back every year on her birthday because he knew it was important to her.
When we went to Montana, he took us to visit Gramma every night.
Even after almost ten years, he still recognized everyone's trucks and ex-wives in his hometown.
I teased him that there wasn't a car he hadn't driven, a woman he hadn't slept with, and a building he hadn't worked on in all of western Montana. And he agreed.
He gave me two beautiful sons and acted like the sun rose and set in their eyes. (Which it does.)
We could road trip anywhere and talk for hours. Some of the best conversations we ever had were in the middle of nowhere, Utah, coming or going to Montana.
He could fix almost any problem in the world just by holding me. Nothing was real until I'd talked to him about it.
He worked on his relationship with two of his daughters and told them all the time how proud he was of them and what great people they had become. When they came to visit him in the hospital, he told everyone it was the best 4th of July he'd ever had. And he meant it.
His eyes positively sparkled.
He had the best shoulders and biceps of any man on the planet. (He was exceedingly vain about them.)
His skin smelled like sunshine.
Until he got too sick to do so, he spent every Saturday morning with the Bug and let me sleep in. They'd go to the car wash, run errands, bring breakfast or come back and cook, and Bug loved it. He reveled in his daddy.
He won my dad over even though he was The Guy His Daughter Moved In With On Her First Day Of Meeting.
Watching him install and tape drywall was like watching a Master paint. It was seriously sexy.
He was friends with my brother who isn't friends with anyone. When my brother called after he'd gotten the news, he cried.
He was my best friend.
Rick Garrod, 01/10/1962 - 08/07/2009