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If Love Alone Could Have Saved You

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“Take a deep breath Rafa. Come on, you can do it,” Olivia’s voice shook, and she gave her friend a gentle shake. Rafael wanted to shove her off and run far far away, but she kept talking. “You can do this.” She said softly.
Rafael wanted to do nothing more than scream. Scream and throw things and break everything he owned. He wanted to go back to the bar and get drunker than he’s ever been in his life and get in a fist fight until he couldn’t feel anything. He let out a jagged chuckle at the thought, everything about his current predicament hitting him like a truck.

“I can’t Liv. Please.” He choked out, looking at the ground. She put a hand on his back, getting him to look at her.

“Sonny would want you to be there, Bella was looking for you.” She said trying to coax him, Rafael looking at her like she had three heads.

“What difference does it make, he’s dead.” He snarled, Olivia clenching her teeth. He could tell she was hurting too, and it made him feel guilty for being so difficult. But he couldn’t make himself feel any differently than he felt in the moment. Shattered.

“I need you.” She said, quieter, her words snagging on his heart. He hated himself for being such an asshole to the person who is in every sense of the word his best friend. Sonny always got upset with him when he get too snappy with the detectives.

“Okay,” He breathed out and let Olivia take his hand, squeezing it as they walked back into the church. She lead him straight to where Amanda was with Bella and Gina, a pew near the front. Near the casket. Where his husband was. He saw Sonny’s parents out of the corner of his eye standing in front of it.

Rafael couldn’t even bring himself to look in the direction of it, let alone go over there, so he just ducked his head down. Bella reached for his hand when he sat down, the man letting her take it.

The priest got up to speak and Rafael had to bite down hard on his lip to keep from sobbing, Olivia putting a comforting hand on his quivering back.

“If love alone could have saved Dominick, he would have lived forever.” He started and Rafael felt like a bullet pierced his heart. He got shakier, his foot tapping the floor a mile a minute as the priest kept talking. Everything was in past tense. Dominick was. Dominick did. Dominick went. Rafael felt like the walls are closing in on him, his attempts to ground himself failing miserably.

“I -I can’t do this.” He choked out and got up, shaking Bella off of him when she tried to get him to sit back down, storming out. He ran out the doors of the sanctuary, down the hallway, and out the front doors of the church. When he reached the bottom of the steps he couldn’t hold himself together any longer, dropping to his knees. He let himself fall apart, sobbing so hard he couldn’t breathe. Olivia soon came into view out of the corner of his eye.

“Hey hey you’re okay.” She said, getting choked up herself and rubbing his back as more sobs wracked through his body.

“Get me out of here, if you care about me.” He finally spat out after a minute, Olivia helping him up and taking him to her van. She helped him into the passenger seat before climbing into the other side and starting to drive in a slow circle around the block. They needed to go back eventually for the processional to his burial, but she knew better than to bring that up.

They were on the road for ten minutes when she heard Rafael choking back a gag and pulled over, gently pushing him out of the vehicle a fraction of a second before he emptied the contents of his stomach, mostly liquor and acid, onto the side of the road. She got out and ran to the other side to comfort him, reaching to grab a water bottle from the glove compartment.

“I’m so sorry Rafa” She said quietly as she held the water bottle up to his mouth, his hands too shaky for him to do it himself without dumping it everywhere.

“We were supposed to go- to Florida this weekend. He was scared Liv, he couldn’t figure out why. He just wanted to get away from the job for a few days.” Rafael mumbled between sips, Olivia reaching to grab his hand with her free one.

“I know, he told us. He was really excited.” She said in response, Rafael dropping his head into her shoulder.

“I hate that everything about him, it’s all in past tense now.” He said, lifting his head so it wasn’t muffled before dropping it right back down.

“Your love isn’t.” Olivia said, putting the water bottle down and pulling him as close to her as was physically possible.
They sat for what feels like days until Olivia looked at her phone and realized they need to head back. Rafael knew without her saying it when she moved her arms from him, holding out a hand to help him to his feet and back into the car. He was silent the entire way back that church, not looking up as they walked in. They stood in the back for the last few minutes of the service, Rafael squeezing Olivia’s hand before stepping away and walking up to join the other pallbearers. Dominick Sr pulled him into a hug the moment he saw him, Rafael almost wanting to collapse in his arms like he had Olivia’s. He had been terrified when Sonny first introduced them, but as time went he grew to love him in a way he never had the chance to love his own father.
“And now we’re going to hear from Dominick’s husband, Rafael Barba.”

Rafael stood up from his folding chair, feeling Bella reach forward and squeeze his hand before he stepped forward to where his priest was formally standing, behind the casket. He carefully took the piece of paper he had written his speech on out of his pocket, unfolding it slowly as if he could somehow slow time enough to where the burial just wouldn’t happen. But as that wasn’t possible, he eventually had all the words he had written in front of him.

“Dominick, Sonny, as he so affectionally asked we all call him, was the love of my life, and the truest love I will ever have. He was brave, which he showed when he walked out the door to go to work as a detective with New York’s finest every day. But he was more than his job. He was funny. He was kind. He was sensitive. He was everything that I had ever wanted to be and more. I knew the risks of his job, when another officer was killed he would have to talk me down from not wanting him to go to work. But I never thought it would be him. ”Who could look at this beautiful person and hate him?” I told myself. I don’t know how I am going to go on without having him to talk my ear off about case law, stuff Italian food down my throat, and just be with at the end of the day. My best and most dearest love, you have fought a good fight, you have finished your course, you have kept your faith.”