Day 5 - I recall her as joyous, always smiling, effervescent as the tiny dancing bubbles of carbonated drinks I slugged down each morning to kick me into gear, her buoyant soul heartening even the hardest hearts like mine since she’d jumped the broom. She was jubilant, her grace softened with romance and love, she arrived each day to teach the kindergarten littles, her pupils giggling and laughing as she encircled them into her care; the young ones so scared quickly warmed to her nurturing. She was the quintessential school mommy, although not of her own, for every one of them, and God knows she spoke of having kids so many times. She tried to have one that first year. I was witness to the first sparks fizzle as she arrived from a short break her eyes puffy, her shoulders bowed, her bright blouse a contradiction to her apparent sadness. She’d lost it, she confessed. And another early in year two. Her warmth cooled into a season layered with dark rains and frozen tundra when she returned to us the second time. We offered condolences but she was too brittle. The winds had shifted, and she was blowing backward in such misery and pain. She hardened like children’s Elmer glue, the kids knew as they watched with untrained eyes seeing someone whose sole purpose to exist had been taken from her. She left us in year three; she blew away from our lives without fanfare or excuses. The pain was too much, she remarked. The Dean found a new school mommy for the littles to giggle with, and my hardened heart caved inward, its baffles once aired, deflating as I watched her walk arm in arm with him off of the school grounds, never a look back. To be safe from such pain was favorable but still, I remembered refusing love once offered. Perhaps…to never have lived killed me long before joy was beset by good-byes.