The night before he died, Lee Rigby sent his mother, Lyn, a moving text message.
"Goodnight mum. I hope you had a fantastic day today, because you are the most fantastic, one in a million mum that anyone could ever wish for.
"Thank you for supporting me all these years. You're not just my mum, you're my best friend. Goodnight and love you loads."
The text was read at a press conference the Rigbys held to pay tribute to their brother, son and husband. It was short but emotionally-charged, the family struggling through their grief.
Stepfather Ian Rigby choked back tears as he read words from other family members including the 25-year-old military drummer's sisters.
He was estranged from his wife Rebecca, the mother of their two-year-old son Jack, but they were planning a reunion this weekend.
"I love Lee, I always will and I'm proud to be his wife," she said.
"He was due to come up this weekend so we could continue our future together as a family. He was a devoted father to our son Jack, and we'll both miss him terribly."
Asked about the attack being on British soil, she said: "You don't expect it to happen when he's in the UK.
You think they're safe.
"His proudest moments were serving in London on the ceremonials with the drum corps."
Rigby, from Crumpsall in Manchester, completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009 and had also served in Germany and Cyprus.
Ian Rigby, 54, whose surname the soldier adopted as a boy, said: "Lee had a fiery temper when he was younger, I used to sit on him to calm him down till he got too big at 15, then he used to sit on me.
"Lee's dream growing up was always to join the army which he succeeded in doing. He was dedicated and loved his job."