On April 19th, 2008, the day I was married, I gave Rick a wedding gift. It was a compilation of all the poems I had ever written for him, hardbound into a book. It was the very last thing I ever did as Arielle Lee Becker.
I remember how amazed Rick was when he opened it and how touched. My writing was one of the things that brought us together. He spent Christmas of 2006 alone at home, reading everything I had written on my old website, falling in love with me through my words... or so he said. Once we became a couple, I showed him the poems I wrote and he marveled at each one, so proud of what I could do and so stunned that so many of the poems were for him.
He never tired of my writing and always treasured each piece of paper I gave him. He saved everything. He had a box of every email we'd exchanged, every note, every card, and every poem. He taped his favorites to his desk. Long after the hardbound book of poetry was created in 2008, Rick saved my poems, because they kept coming. They tapered off as the newness of love dissolved, but still I wrote them, because ours was a steady love that was always there, even when excitement faded away.
Instead of a traditional obituary for Rick, I stayed true to myself and included a poem with the obituary I wrote for the newspaper. It was almost $1,000 total, but I didn't care. I didn't want an obituary that read like a resume - every place Rick had worked, where he went to school, etc. I wanted to show the person I married, the person I loved, and the emotion behind his life. I wanted to do what Rick would have wanted.
The poem I put in the obituary was one of mine, and it was one of Rick's favorites. It sums up what my heart needed to say.
I looked at the red book today, the one I gave him as a wedding gift over 6 years ago. I held it in my hands for a long while before opening it. And when I opened it, before I even realized what was happening, I started reading the first poem out loud.
When I had finished the poem, I wiped my eyes, closed the book, and told Rick I'd read him another one tomorrow.