She no longer went into the schoolyard to collect them. It was too difficult facing the pitying looks, and people felt awkward because they didn't know what to say. So she waited across the road from the school. She still noticed the looks, of course: people still stared, obviously talking about the tragic young widow.
To make things worse, her girls always seemed to be last out, so she had to put up with this furtive compassion for ages. But she was strong. For them, she'd cope. And she'd treat herself to a big drink when they all got home.