After facing ten years of cancer, my mother, Judy MacLellan, became a patient at Hospice Halifax.

When we learned that Mom’s cancer had come back, it was important to us that she could feel some control about how and where she would die. Hospice Halifax opened in the spring of this year and Mom was immediately welcomed as a patient in her own private room.

Mom had her family by her side.

Mom died peacefully at Hospice Halifax. She was not in pain. She was safe and secure. She was nurtured, cared for, and most importantly she was honoured and respected by a team of compassionate and professional caregivers.

In the days leading up to her death, we were offered space – both physical and metaphorical. When we needed to sit and reflect while watching the sunset over the Northwest Arm with a cup of tea, we were left alone. When we were found sobbing in a hallway wondering how to make sense of the senseless, we were given hugs and comfort – always supported, never a burden.

In the hours leading up to her death, the nursing team made a makeshift bed that allowed us to take turns resting our heads next to Mom, with our hands on hers for what would be the last time.

The gift of Hospice we gave Mom was also the final gift that she gave us.

After a lifetime of looking after us, being at Hospice Halifax was her way of ensuring we were in good hands when the time came to look after her.

Since her death, people say Mom is all around me, that I should look for signs. This seems like an impossible task as I didn’t just lose my mother, I lost my best friend. Still, I try and lately I’ve noticed that when I walk into the sunroom of my mother’s beautiful home in Smith’s Cove, a gull will be taking flight from the Bay of Fundy below, soaring toward the window then going up, up, up.

I imagine that gull is her, or represents her. I imagine she is free, she is weightless and she is spreading her wings to soar to heights she had always dreamed of.

I imagine she knows we will be okay.

Ally Garber, Judy’s daughter

A note from Ally:

The care provided by Hospice Halifax is the very best of end of life care and I ask for your help in ensuring it remains there for everyone in our community who needs it. Your donation to Hospice Halifax will help to fund the nurses, doctors, and hospitality staff who make sure that whatever time someone has left is filled with care, compassion, and above all else – love.