Today, I was walking past the bus stop where I first taught S how to get home from school by herself. She was a skinny little 10-year old waif, shy and quiet in public. All afternoon I have tried unsuccessfully to remember what school bag she had at the time. But I remember the yellow jeans and the lilac sweater and her hairband. I can see her standing at the bus stop ready to come home just as I taught her during the days in the previous week when we travelled together every day. I am watching from across the road behind that big tree as the bus comes along. She doesn't know I am there but she is doing all the right things, carefully and seriously, the way we had practiced.
In those days, I was probably the one who was scared most.
Come to think of it, I still am.