It’s possible that the three saddest words I’ve ever typed are “would have been.” Today Rick would have been 62.

In February, he told me he wanted to have one more Christmas. “Cheri got one more Christmas, and I want one too. And I want to spend it down at the beach, with you.”

Rick spent the past Christmas in the hospital. The last time he’d been well enough to visit my home on the peninsula had been the previous July. Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to discourage him in the least.

“Do you think I can make it?” he asked, carefully studying my face.

I softly smiled. “The next time you come to Long Beach, I one hundred percent promise you we’ll have Christmas, no matter what!”

What I didn’t tell him was that I still had plenty of Christmas decorations still up. It was a special surprise I had waiting for him.

In March, when Rick was told there was nothing more the doctors could do for him, he modified his goal. “Will I see another birthday?” he asked me repeatedly.

“Of course you will.”

But the Universe had other ideas.

I had already bought him a birthday card. It was the perfect card for him, capitalizing on an inside joke we shared. It had a cartoon space alien in a flying saucer on the front, and the inside said, “Take me to your cake!”

I wrote him a final love letter, and tucked a metal angel token and his Regal Cinemas membership card inside the envelope. How Rick loved his movies!

After the flag ceremony, the man at Willamette National Cemetery assured me my card would be buried with his urn.

I will always love you, my Big Cuddle Bear, and I sincerely wish I’d told you about leaving up all those holiday decorations. Better yet, I wish you were here right now so we could celebrate just one more Christmas together.