I gave her “the look,” and Elaine retreated to her own desk. “Guess I’m free, Professor Murphy,” I said resignedly, picking up my purse and walking up next to him. He was still smiling, and I walked past him to face Elaine. “I have my Blackberry if you need me.”
“Oh, we won’t need you, Boss. You just go and have a nice long lunch. Don’t worry about a thing. Have fun now, you two!” And with that, Elaine ushered us out into the hallway. Although my back was now to her, I was sure she was grinning widely as she watched us walk toward the stairs.
“Oh, Colin, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” I put my other hand out to him, and he took that one, too.
“Maybe. Anyway, I planned to stay only through the memorial service but then there were so many details to take care of ... it seemed appropriate for me to be there for the boy. He was still so lost. His mother had been his whole world. Maybe it did help that I was there.”
“It’s not something you would know. But I can tell you it’s hard, just starting out in life to be independent, to be on your own, and then all of a sudden you have to be on your own. There’s no one at home to run to if things don’t go right, or if you get scared.”
Now it was Colin’s turn to take her hand and share the pain.