Spinal Cord Compression

by Ann Igoe

I saw a woman walk
She slunk by, moving at a pace,
blending into obscurity as she moved.

I saw a woman walk
Moving with deliberation,
Each pace measured with determination.
I am going to make it.

I watched her head sag, as they pushed the chair,
Her heart broken,
her spirit surging to be positive.

I saw her sit
battered by the news, destroyed by progression.
I watched the love they showered,
The tears they cried.
The hope they tried to capture, to foster, to hold.

She looked up, body beat,
Heart surged with love
There’ll always be you and me….no matter what.

This poem was inspired through witnessing the struggle and courage that many people with advanced life-limiting illness embrace in the face of their mortality – it depicts life pre-diagnosis, during illness and as death approaches. The poem captures for me an existential struggle and desire for survival, even in the face of death. Victor Frankl’s (1964) Man’s Search for Meaning and Klass, Silverman and Nickman’s (1996) Continuing Bonds have particular resonance for me in the existential quest for solace around mortality.

Ann Igoe is a palliative care nurse and a qualified psychotherapist.

Frankl, V. (1964). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to Logotherapy. London: Hodder.
Klass, D., Silverman, P.R. & Nickman, S.L. (1996). Continuing bonds: New understandings of grief. New York: Taylor & Francis.