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By Scott Janssen, MA, MSW, LCSW

You were an ancient lighthouse
Crumbling from
Punishing storms;
Light still burning.

Stories flowed from you
Like sweat
From bodies
Worked to exhaustion.

White folks didn’t like me
Speaking out, you said.
They even tried to kill me.
But I’m still here.

When you said you’d
Beat metastatic cancer
Your daughter agreed –   
God’ll cure her for sure. 
The last thing He wants is to get mom riled up.

You showed me your name
In a book about women
In the civil rights movement.
One day I’m going to write these stories down, you said.

But you were too busy fighting.  

— Scott Janssen, MA, MSW, LCSW, is a hospice social worker with UNC Health Care Hospice, and a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s trauma-informed care work group.