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ONE YEAR LATER
Bette let herself into the house, juggling three grocery bags and her briefcase with the agility of someone used to managing five things at once. She set her keys, sunglasses and briefcase on the table by the entry way, then made her way to the kitchen to put the groceries away.
Everything on Tina’s list found and purchased, which made her absurdly happy. She paused to notice the Mexican Sunflowers in a colorful vase by the kitchen window and smiled, knowing that meant Tina’s garden would be in full bloom and how happy that would make the blonde.
“Notice the flowers, Bette…” Tina was always reminding her… “pay attention to the beauty around you, you are always in such a rush…”
So, she stopped to notice the flowers, smell the roses so to speak. It made Tina happy and that was something Bette highly approved of. It had been a long year and Tina had been through so much.
She had to go to two separate stores to find the right brand of almond milk and Kashi cereal Tina requested but was successful at Trader Joes. Which is where Tina instructed her to go in the first place when she handed her the list this morning. But the small market near her office was so much more convenient. And also woefully understocked and tragically overpriced, as Tina would tell her again when she heard Bette went there anyway.
She took a moment to admire the full fridge, fruit and veggies, juices and creams. Condiments lined the shelves and it looked like a salad was already prepared for dinner. She remembered when half empty cartons of three-day old Chinese food greeted her on Fridays, grim reminders of her solitary life, sitting on her shelves like soldiers of failure.
Bette Porter bringing home groceries. And not minding one bit. She still remembered when she was by herself, having lost Tina, devastated… alone. She felt that loss keenly then, the empty places on her bookshelf where Tina’s books had been, the missing pictures, the dead plants. The emptiness of the house that now practically hummed with life. It had taken a shift for both of them, a commitment to making the relationship work, to talk things out, to listen. But the shadow of the almost-loss never quite went away for her, a reminder to Bette that relationships are purposeful, and the need to stay focused on theirs.