HUGHSON -- A fallen Stanislaus County soldier was laid to rest Tuesday as friends and family gathered to remember him.
Outside Lakewood Funeral Home, American flags served as a reminder of what 20-year-old Avadon Chaves died fighting for.
Friends and family gathered and shared stories about Chaves' smile, sense of humor and love.
"He reminded me every day that he was my best friend," said his wife, Tesa Chaves.
Chaves died on Dec. 20 in Iraq in what the military is calling a "non-combat related incident," leaving friends and family wishing for more time.
"I wish I loved you more, I wish I encouraged you more, prayed with you more. I wish I told you how proud I am of you because I am proud of you," she said.
"Each one of you guys in this room, Avadon told me he loved and each one of you guys built him to be the incredible man I fell so quickly in love with," Tesa Chaves added.
Chaves' sister ended the short ceremony with a heartfelt goodbye letter written by their mother.
"I am so thankful to God Almighty for blessing me with such a precious gift. For the rest of my days on this earth, I will long to be with him once again. Everywhere I go in this world, he is with me in my heart. I know one day when my life is over, I will live for all eternity in heaven right beside my mijo. Until that most blessed day arrives, I will cherish the moments we shared together."
Following the short service, Chaves' wife and mother walked hand-in-hand to his final resting place.
As it came closer to the final goodbye, with the flag of the country he died for folded and presented to his family, the rain began to fall harder, almost as if Chaves was making sure his goodbye was heard as well.