In Memoriam

Poem and Tribute to Our Colleague Maria Irwin, MD, PhD

By Lesley Silver, MD, FRCPC

Maria Viktoria Irwin was born on November 13,1972 and died on April 30, 2020. She used to send me video clips of the sounds of the birds seemingly hundreds of feet up and all around in the dark, when she left the house for work at 5am. Maria was an assistant professor at the University of Florida. Below is a photo of hers that she sent me with the following caption "Spring is here and the sky is beautiful". She was absolutely great at what she did, and she embodied the woman-physician-mother with passion. She will be missed by many.

Dr. IrwinMy fondest impression
your face raised skyward
dark yet, except for the stereophonic sound
of doves calling from trees, the whippoorwill, crickets, herons and cranes
among the infinite celestial voices
of the tropics
To the beep of the monitor,
three conversations at once,
too much equipment to move
and always the possibility of something experimental
All glitter
Your mind moves
through the eye of the needle
sound muted by your intent
The smallest ask for nothing
and yet they demand your utmost
Compassion for the frailest
You move between
the unerring execution to
the next thing you must do
Each detail finds you,
and waits for a place - parts of the whole
You continue to care
long after you have delivered them safely
Not an exercise of the mind
or a mountain to climb
but rather-
as the voices whose choruses sang
to tell you alone
in each dark before the day,
a life nobly lived.

Author: Lesley Silver, MD, FRCPC
Pediatric Anesthesiologist
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Assistant Professor
University of Ottawa
Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
Ottawa, Ontario

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