Wrapped in Rafa’s Hands

Posted in Monthly at 9:48 am by Pasha

I am crying again. But today it is okay. The tears that stream off my eyelashes, down my cheeks and fall off my chin to my chest are made of a combination of emotions: they come from grief but are accompanied by love, faith and hope.

Today Phyllis, my departed best friend Rafa’s mother, sent me a letter that she had gotten in the mail from a woman across the street. The woman had been with Rafa in his final hour. She said that she prayed to him, with him, and held his hand while he died. She said he was surrounded by love and God in his final hour. And it makes me know …. more than I have ever known, that he is indeed in heaven. He is looking down on us wishing he was still here but finally at peace in his soul.

He watched us at the funeral, as we all put out our most stylish funeral-chic garb in his honor. He laughed a little then and was happy to be in his own new happening suit. He watches me as I walk and cuddle with Lolli … when I can be alone and continue to cry and impossibly mend my broken heart. He is watching his poor mama, how she will never stop loving him or fighting for his honor, not for a second. Rafa watches his sister, Rebecca, his two nephews and niece as they try to fill the gaping holes he left in their lives. How his spirit still fills the room but his presence can’t anymore.

“I have loved him since the day I met him,” I whispered to Rebecca after I saw him laying in a casket with a nose that just was not his and hands that were shaped like his but didn’t feel like the ones I gripped so many times. Truth is, I have never loved anyone like I loved him. Not even my husband. The moment I spotted him across a busy street, that love was instant. And it never wavered, it never failed. He was the one person that I could instantly forgive. Who Rafa was and how he made everyone feel was so different. He made me feel like I was someone special … that I was the only person that he ever felt like this about.

Rafa brought me flowers and played with my hair. He would hold my hands and caress every line and every bone, as if he really wanted to feel my soul. He showed me love in the most traditional ways a man can … he told me he loved me often, he was enamoured when seeing me and always told me I was beautiful. Last month before I left to get married we talked about the future; his, mine and ours. We joked that I would get even more homely soon and he insisted he would never see me dolled up, in heels, with boobs spilling out, again. We talked about how his journey into the future sober would be even better than his journey so far. He was scarred that he was losing me and we talked about how I would never leave his life. We held hands and rounded the corner in the brick back alley to my Armitage apartment when we talked about our future, the one we would have together. We had always day dreamed together of how children that we would make would look; with dark skin and hair and bright blue eyes. I promised him that we would still have those children; that one day when he was good, settled and ready, that I would carry a baby for him and that we would even try to get Matt to let us make it the old fashioned way. He might have been joking, although the intensity in his brown eyes would scream otherwise, I was never joking. I always wanted to have children with him and be that big of a part of his life, ever since I was 17.

I used to beg his cousin to let me in their dorm room and then sleep in his bed. I would sleep there all night just hoping he would come home and want to cuddle. Sometime he did but most often I laid in his bed alone. In his down sheets and comforter I was at my peace. In a time when I couldn’t find myself, and I searched, I was always just me when I was in his bed. I remember that old apartment on Delaware and the wood grained Dae Woo he was driving then. I remember laying toe to head on my pink leather couch and deciding that I would move to Boston. He drove me there to discover it. I will never forget a trip to Vincennes when I felt like there was nothing left for me in Buffalo. Or my copious amounts of firsts that I had with him during our trip up the east coast.

When we reunited in Chicago it was all still there. The feeling, emotions and love had never left my heart. It beat harder and faster for him. And my husband understood our relationship, never threatened by Rafa’s love for me or mine for him. It is the beauty of a relationship with the gay man; your straight and steadfast partner doesn’t feel the threat of losing you to him. And Rafa never wanted to take me out of the nest that he teased me that I had built. He savoured Thanksgiving dinner at the table I will move into my new home. He obsessed about my weight loss and droopy sweat pants. He spilled a glass of red wine on the couch from where I am typing. He is everywhere.

I fear the future with my missing piece. My heart and soul can never be refilled or replaced from who I lost, from the relationship that was one of a kind. But I will think of him everyday and everywhere. He surrounds me in so many ways. And he will forever be my greatest love.