Zack and the Stars


Around the young age when most children are entering elementary school for the first time, Zack* entered Emily’s House children’s hospice….

Zack was “the one” in the family who could make everyone happy.  He did household chores with his grandma. He loved his big family, being outdoors, dancing, and the wide, wheelchair-accessible hallway that enabled him to race between the front and back of his house on his scooter assistive devise.

So, when he was admitted to Emily’s House, he got mad.  He stopped talking and his family thought Zack was depressed.

The frontline care team at Emily’s House spent time with Zack as they managed his complex medical care needs. They learned a lot about him from talking with his family, and from observing his reactions to small things. … Soon, they realized he was upset because he missed the things of home, especially being outside.  Although it was 10 pm when they figured it out, they asked him if he wanted to go outside.  He could look at the stars.

The moment he reached the patio, this child, who had been uncharacteristically quiet for far too long, started screaming – with happiness.  He erupted with sounds of joy and giant smiles. In the days that followed, they took him for outdoor excursions in the neighborhood, and Zack made joyful sounds all the while.  He participated in the Emily’s House daily recreational play program, and shared the fun with his siblings. The team also brought everyone together for a dance party featuring Zack’s favourite music, because what Zack loved most of all was to see his whole family happy.

Emily’s House reconnected this child with his natural joy, and helped him create new and special memories with his family, by recognizing and responding to the little things important to Zack. When it comes to end-of-life care, the little things can become “big things.”