All those years ago
When I taught elementary school
I had the privilege to know
A student cursed by biology
But blessed with a spirit
Defined perfectly by her name

Her prognosis was not good
Her skin
Aggressive, raw, and delicate
Worked to encase the young one
In a cocoon of her own making
Her fingers were bound under mounds of flesh
Her joints perpetually peeled
Like never healing sunburns

Her will never gave in

I taught this young warrior
For seven years
In kindergarten watching her
Struggle to learn how to skip
In sixth grade asking her to manage
A hockey stick with fingers barely able to move
Always I worried about
Keeping her with the class
But she was determined
To be with her friends
And I was willing to take her lead
Although I worried that,
With a slightest bump or fall,
Her fragile make up
Might give way

But her constitution never did

She walked to class
Her herky-jerky gait
Requiring a little extra time
Until she finally had to give in
To motorized travel
Yet there was never any complaining
Never any whining
Never any bratty behavior
Just some funny moments
When she would go all out prankster
And pretend that she might run over my toes

I think she may have been the toughest
Person I’ve known

She defied her condition for twenty-six years
Her body no longer able to
Match her unyielding spirit
She recently passed away

Hearing of her death was not a surprise
Doctors had been predicting this
Since she was six, seven, ei……..
But Millie would have none of it
My surprise has been the flood of memories
Coming back to me
Like they had been put in my brain
Wrapped tightly in a time capsule
To be released on this inevitable day

But I can’t help but smile
For I got to know
And be her teacher

No, I got to be her student

There was a lot
She taught me
About living

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