I've always wondered about Jim's mom - obviously he must have a great one, given how sweet he turned out. I thought it might be nice to view the world through her eyes. I picture Larissa Halpert as somewhat resembling Sela Ward. Lovely but simply put together.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, even the ones we never see on screen. No Copywrite Infringement Intented - I just want a happy ending!
Jonathan, her eldest, was the typical over-achieving first born with an extroverted personality, a passion for soccer, and a good heart. He had the intelligence to do anything he wanted, and was currently working as a researcher and lecturer in the behavior science department of Temple University in Philadelphia. As a high school English teacher, Larissa had always been a little more than proud at Jonathan's PhD ambitions. Education meant everything to Larissa, and through Jonathan it showed.
Not that her other two children were less than extraordinary in her eyes. Jessica, her youngest, was in her final year of Journalism and Media Studies at Penn State, and had interned for a different magazine each summer. She had a good head on her shoulders and a love of the written word. She was sociable, with a long list of acquaintances, but knew to share her heart with only a handful of trusted friends, some of them going as far back as elementary school. And while she'd never fit the prerequisites for a runway model, she was lovely with dark hair and sparkling eyes, and never seemed to have trouble finding a date if she decided she wanted one. Larissa was proud of her daughter's sense of self-confidence, and her ability to function well on her own.
Then there was Jim, her middle child. Larissa herself had been a middle child, and so perhaps that's why she felt the closest to him. Jim was smart, but clearly the dreamer of the three. He was also a bit more sensitive, and as a result often was happy to sit back and let Jonathan and Jessica fight for the limelight. He did well in everything he was interested in, but never felt the need to pull ahead to be number one in anything. He was just happy to be. This often made him at odds with his father, who as a doctor and surgeon just couldn't seem to understand that a person could enjoy doing something without feeling the need to be the absolute best at it. Larissa was often the mediator between them during Jim's teenage years. She appreciated Jim's love of the process. To Jim, doing something had to be just as enjoyable as having it finished. He perhaps understood the point of education at its most basic level. Only one thing grew to mean more to him than that. As Larissa learned while watching him become a man, it was love that meant everything to him. Her greatest despair as a mother therefore, was watching while the one thing he wanted most seemed destined to elude his grasp.
She remembered when Jim first started at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. It was a word of mouth tip from a college buddy of his, who lived next door to somebody down in the warehouse. It was the spring of his graduation from college, and it fit the bill as a job he could latch onto just to prevent himself from standing in the unemployment line. It made more than working retail, and was a more relaxed atmosphere than working in banking or with some of his father's associates. He rejected the idea of immediately going on to graduate school, mostly because he had no idea what he wanted to study. His college buddy Mark was coming back to Scranton for a job, so Jim already had housing and his social life worked out. Dunder Mifflin was going to be his stepping-stone job, the one he's put up with for a year or two, until he figured out what he really wanted to do.
Larissa remembered Jim's first week at Dunder Mifflin. She'd called him that Wednesday to see how he was settling in, and that's when she first heard the name of Pam Beesly.
"So how are things working out?" She asked.
"I'm not sure I've made the right decision working there," Jim replied. "My boss is the definition of crazy, and the sales guy I sit next to is even worse. It's like working in the Twilight Zone."
"Oh, I'm sorry Jim. Is there no one normal working there?"
"The receptionist is really nice. Her name is Pam."
She could tell from his tone that her son thought this Pam was more than just nice. "Well that's something. You talk to her a lot?"
"Pretty much. We can see each other from our desks, and I can tell she feels the same away about Michael and Dwight." He paused for a moment. "I think I'm going to ask her out to lunch on Friday."
When Jim showed up for lunch on Sunday, Larissa could just tell from his whole demeanor that lunch with Pam hadn't been a success. He was helping her dry the dishes when she finally brought it up.
“Lunch didn't work out?” She asked without preamble.
“Oh, I'm sorry, Jim.”
He shrugged. “No big deal,” he said, putting the silverware back in the drawer.
Jim was always talkative around her, so Larissa guessed that it really was a big deal, but knew to stay silent. She had no words that could comfort him. She just hoped this was a short-lived crush buoyed by the fact he had not made many friends at work yet.
She thought perhaps he had moved on from his crush, because he didn't mention her again for several weeks. But slowly, and with increasing frequency, her name kept popping into the conversation. Pam said this. Pam and I did this to Dwight. Pam said that. You should see what Pam drew. Pam, Pam, Pam. Years passed and Pam remained a regular fixture of conversation. Nothing serious, just friendly anecdotes, but Larissa could see that whenever he said her name there was still a light in his eyes which indicated while he may have convinced himself they were just best friends, deep down his heart knew otherwise.
Every now and then though, she heard in his voice a touch of sadness, or a note of despair, and she knew something had happened that reminded him the relationship wasn't all he wanted it to be. She often wondered if this Pam knew the effect she had on her son. She hoped that she didn't, because otherwise she'd have to believe this girl capable of staggering cruelty. And she didn't want to believe that her son, her sensitive middle child, could fall so hard for a woman that insensitive. She had faith that whatever he saw in her must be something so wonderful that he'd put himself through all of it for all this time. She just prayed some good would eventually come of it.
Then came that night in May. She was sitting up reading, her husband out on call at the hospital. At around midnight the phone rang. It was Jim.
“Sorry to call so late, Mom,” he said. “Did I wake you?”
“No, of course not,” she assured him. “What's wrong?”
“Can I come over?” he asked.
Fifteen minutes later she answered the door. She had no idea what had come to pass, but it was clear his heart was broken. He spent the first twenty minutes crying as they sat together on the couch, and she was helpless to do anything but hold him. As Jim began to gain control over his tears, the story became clear. He had told Pam that he was in love with her. He'd kissed her, and made it clear to his mother that she had kissed him back. But the truth was that she was still going to marry her fiance. He had done everything he thought he could do to win her, and it just wasn't enough. He looked lost and defeated and she cried for him. Sitting beside her wasn't her grown son; he was her child again, and she felt a wave of anger over the perceived injustice. How could this woman not see how wonderful he was? How could she hurt him so much? Just who did she think she was? She thought at that moment she hoped she never met this Pam Beesly, because she would not be able to resist telling her exactly what she thought of her. What idiot would reject her son?
He spent that night back in his old room, and most of the next day by her side. She understood him better than anyone, and he knew she would listen without judgment. When he told her he was taking a transfer to Connecticut he didn't even have to say why. She'd miss him terribly, but he deserved a new chance. No one was more worthy of happiness than him.
She visited him twice in Stamford. First was a few weeks after he moved. He had a small but tidy apartment, and his office window faced the ocean. She noticed he'd lost some weight, but wisely said nothing. She did make a mental note to start sending more cookies, though. He took her down to a restaurant on the riverfront her first night there, and he spoke of how different this new branch was to Scranton. She could tell that he really was trying to make an effort to be happy, so it hurt her to still see so much sadness behind his beautiful hazel eyes. Would he never be able to forget that stupid girl?
She stayed four days on that visit, and on the last day she was there was he got a call from his friend Toby. It wasn't a long conversation, and the look on his face as he hung up made her fear something bad had happened.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“I don't know,” he replied, putting his hand through his hair. She recognized that move as a reflex of his when he was feeling anxious or confused. “Pam called off her wedding last week.”
She watcher her son carefully as he said that, and marveled at the range of emotions that washed over his face. He seemed overwhelmed, concerned, confused, curious, wistful, hopeful and resigned all in the span of ten seconds.
“What are you going to do?” she asked softly.
“What can I do?” he replied, almost as much to himself as to her. “She turned me down. If something's changed, she knows where I am.”
She couldn't blame him for not picking up the phone, though she would have bet everything she owned that he wanted to. She wished there was something she could do, but knew it wasn't her right. For all she knew this girl wasn't right for her son. Time would have to tell. She knew his feelings were still too raw, his confidence too low, to believe anything would come of this new development.
The second visit was at the start of September. She came down for Labor Day weekend, and they had a wonderful time watching the last sailing races of summer. She didn't mention Pam, but it was clear from his silence that she hadn't called him despite her canceled wedding. And while he was clearly doing well financially in Stamford, with the new expensive suits and him treating her to the best restaurants in town, there still was something missing. The sparkle in his eyes when he used to mention Pam's name wasn't there, not matter what they discussed, only a dull acceptance in its place. She knew she'd give anything to see that sparkle in her son's eyes, but once again reminded herself that it was out of her hands.
She called him one afternoon in late October to ask if he was planning on making it home for Thanksgiving when she heard that familiar sound of bewilderment in his voice.
“What's wrong, Jim?” she asked.
“It looks like the Stamford branch is closing down, Mom. I guess I'm coming back to Scranton.”
Larissa was delighted to think that Jim would be close to home again, and proud of his new promotion as the number two in charge once back in Scranton. But she knew what he was worried about. He was coming back to work in the same office as Pam, and Larissa doubted very much that he had gotten himself over her in the relatively short time he'd been away. She hoped that either Pam had come to the realization of how wonderful her son was in the months they'd been apart, or perhaps she wasn't even working at Dunder Mifflin anymore. At this point Larissa didn't care which, she just wanted things easier for Jim.
Jim's first Sunday dinner at home was the day before his reappearance back at the Scranton branch. He'd found a new place to live mere blocks from his parents' house. His brother Jonathan, visiting for the weekend, teased him for moving back “so close to Mommy,” but he took the jib in stride. Well, that and a serious punch to his brother's arm. But truth was, he wanted his mother around right now. She was the one thing he could count on right now. And he as much told her so as he left for his new apartment that evening, getting himself prepared for life back at Dunder Mifflin Scranton.
“I hope you don't mind if I'm coming around all the time to bother you,” he said self-consciously. “It still feels very surreal to be back. I need all the friends I can get right now.”
“You better come around and bother me, or I'll start coming by and embarrassing you in front of your friends,” she grinned. “And you know I'll do it.” They laughed together for a moment, as Jim put his coat on and grabbed his car keys from his pocket. The look on his face betrayed his need for reassurance. “It's going to be okay, you know,” she told him, placing her hand warmly on his arm.
He gave his mother a big hug. “I hope so,” he said. His eyes didn't look so certain.
“Don't be afraid to go after what you want, Jim,” she said, tidying up his coat collar as only a mother could. She gave him a look that dared him to deny he didn't know what she was talking about.
“It's not all about what I want, is it though?” he replied.
“Not all, no,” she nodded. “But you severely underestimate that Halpert charm.” She smiled up at him. “You get that from your father, and he certainly didn't win me over very easily.” She suddenly worried she might have said too much. “I hope that comment wasn't out of order. I don't really know enough about the situation to know if I should be rooting for you or trying to talk you out of it.”
Jim chuckled. “Sometimes I don't know either, Mom. Some days I wish I'd never met her, and other days I wonder how I'll ever manage to live without her.” He touched her shoulder, feeling the softness of her fleece sweater. “But you'd like her. You would really like her.”
She watched her adorable middle child make his way out of the house and to his car, a light snow already starting to come down. Larissa wondered idly if winter would come early this year. She waved as his car pulled out of the drive, and made herself a silent promise. Though she always vowed she would never be the kind of mother that interfered in in her children's lives, she realized that sometimes rules needed to be broken. And while she had no idea what she would even do if the opportunity presented itself, she sure as hell knew she'd take a chance when she saw one.