Sabrina had loved this walk. She’d peer in all the shop windows and sometimes pause to have a lingering look. Roland often had to tug her along, otherwise they’d never get their food shopping done.
In the months since Sabrina died, Roland walked alone. He seldom glanced at the shop windows now. Window-shopping reminded him too much of Sabrina, and that reminded him of how morose he felt without her.
He had tried to pull himself out of his grief-fueled listlessness. He worried that Sabrina would feel sad if she could see how unhappy he was. What he had always wanted most was for Sabrina to be happy. But he couldn’t seem to shake himself out of his low spirits, even for the sake of his dead wife’s post-life contentment.
Today, when he walked past the flower shop, he almost collided with a woman rushing out. She was cradling a bouquet of cut tulips in her arms.
Sabrina had loved tulips. Roland’s late mother-in-law used to run a florist’s shop and Sabrina had grown up in a house full of blooms. For their wedding, Sabrina’s mother donated the flowers. Sabrina’s bridal bouquet was a simple arrangement with bright-pink tulips.
All through their marriage, Sabrina had fresh flowers in the house. She loved early spring, when the tulips were available, and she would fill a vase in every room with them. Roland had not seen a cut tulip since Sabrina died.
At the supermarket, Roland filled a basket with the few items he needed for the week. Just before he reached the checkout, he passed the store’s small floral display—and came to a halt. Among the roses and the carnations and the mixed bouquets stood a single bunch of bright-pink tulips.
Roland stared at the tulips. They reminded him so forcefully of Sabrina. It’s foolish, he thought to himself. A waste of money. But he felt strongly he was meant to take them home. Almost like a message from Sabrina.
He heard her voice behind him now. “Are you happy? The only thing that matters to me is that you are happy.”
Roland whirled around. A woman he didn’t recognize shuffled by, pushing her cart and speaking earnestly into her mobile phone. He stood staring after her, then turned back to the flowers.
Roland lifted the bunch of tulips, cradling them in one arm. He gave the surprised checkout girl one of the tulips before she wrapped them in paper. Then he carried the blooms home.
That evening he ate supper at his kitchen table, gazing at the bright-pink tulips. And, for the first time since Sabrina died, he smiled. And felt almost happy.