Never Stop Believing – Dreams Can Come True

18 Jun 2020

cadr1This is a story about a lady named Shoanna Holmes who, at the age of 13 years developed an imaginary boyfriend, named Clifford, who was a policeman. Shoanna was born in the 70s with Down Syndrome and a bad heart, which the doctors would not operate on.

They told us she would have a life expectancy of five years. Through the love of family and community, Shoanna thrived until 44 years of age, when her heart just could not keep up. Shoanna passed away peacefully at home in the arms of her beloved sister this past January 2020. This is her story and tribute to a policeman of the Halifax Regional Police.

Where Shoanna got the name and character we never knew, but she never wavered in her love and devotion to Clifford. Every time she saw a police car drive past our home she would jump up and get excited, waving frantically. On the occasions when a policeman would have to direct traffic due to a vehicle accident at the intersection by our house, Shoanna would literally swoon and watch with adoring eyes.

Everyone who came to visit us, from the milkman, water delivery man and neighbours, received a handmade wedding invitation.  Over the years, thousands of people received a wedding invitation, as she was always getting married ‘next week’. My family bought her wedding dresses which she constantly wore, and we would even rent convertibles to drive her around in.  


For her amazing 40th birthday, we rented a stretch limousine and after collecting the senior neighbours went to the Halifax Regional Department in Burnside, NS where it was pre-arranged to have a young constable come out and present her with roses. Shoanna was beyond ecstatic and could not believe she met Clifford on her special day.

Fast forward to her 44th year when we were advised her internal organs were shutting down. I took her to the Burnside Police station for a tour where everyone went out of their way to welcome Shoanna and get their picture taken with her. She also received a Halifax Police Dept swag bag, which never left her sight for the remaining months of her life. Shoanna was very thrilled to meet her Clifford again.

On 7 September 2019, Shoanna turned 44. Clifford (aka Jim) came for a quick birthday visit with balloons and flowers. The visit only lasted ten minutes as Shoanna exhausted quickly and her heart could not handle the excitement. Still, Jim and Joanne, a Community Relations Sgt who arranged everything, took the time to come and visit Shoanna. 

Her happiness to receive gifts from Clifford was poignant and memorable. Jim also requested Shoanna to put on her wedding dress for him.

Well, Jim most certainly did not have to do this, but I explained the circumstances and he never hesitated. Calling her Babycakes (Clifford’s name for her) he made a formal request and Shoanna excitingly went to change. She came out of her bedroom glowing like an angel and happily stood beside her Clifford while the cameras were flashing. Numerous poses captured her adoration for Clifford and in her mind, she was finally and truly getting married. Jim was so patient and loving towards Shoanna, and she just bacadr2sked and melted in his hands. The pictures, needless to say, were amazing and beautiful. Shoanna never hesitated to take pictures, but with Jim in her wedding pictures, her face was so angelic. A true bride.

Shoanna’s health quickly deteriorated after her birthday, seemingly as she accomplished her one main, most important facet in her life. She spoke dearly of Clifford, and we had the pictures enlarged and plastered around the home. Shoanna’s life was complete and she passed away a very happy woman who met and married her one true love.

For another person’s compassion to reach out to a special needs person like this is an amazing experience and is what life and duty are truly all about. A policeman went above and beyond to spend some time and love of his job to bring sunshine and happiness to a special lady.

The Holmes family will forever be in the debt of the Halifax Regional Police Dept for helping Shoanna in her declining health to make her life that much more special.

Jim and Joanne certainly personify the basic values of a police officer. ‘Dedicated to excellence in service through the commitment of our people to teamwork, integrity and our core values’.

The story you just read was written by Teresa Holmes, Regional Secretary for Region 6 - Ottawa, Canada, and Shoanna was her sister. 


Teresa Holmes, Regional Secretary Region 6, IPA Canada