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Article: Letter to a Loved One: Francesca

Letter to a Loved One: Francesca

Dear Mom and Dad,

In the last 3 years, life has snatched you both from me — a life event that seems like something out of a nightmare. It feels simultaneously like just days but also a lifetime ago that we were all together at home, going through our daily life and routines. Everything was so normal, well, normal in retrospect. In the wake of your loss, our lives were shattered. Each day since feels like I’m struggling to complete a puzzle with pieces that don’t fit.  

I celebrated my first birthday without both of you yesterday— what a strange day it was. How do you celebrate a birthday without the people who gave you life? I really don’t know. Daily I’m confronted with thoughts like this. The same ‘how will i do ________ without you’ narrative repeats and rings true for everyday moments and the milestones of the future. I’m, 29 years old and some days I feel like I’m a toddler just learning to walk. There’s so much I still needed you for. It’s cutting to know there’s so much that has been taken from you both; experiences that you wanted to share with my brother and I; experiences that you should have had with us. Experiences that can no longer be. The ‘what could have been’ ist as crushing as your absence. We weren’t ready to lose you, not even a little bit.

It’s hard not to feel an exceptional pressure to make you both proud, even more so than I did while you were both alive. You each came to Canada with nothing, and built a life bit through so much painstaking sacrifice, hard work and dedication so that my brother and I would never know the same struggle you did. I think, sometimes, that’s what makes this all the more unfair. I hope you know what I’ve been up to; how everything I have done and will do will always be for you. It’s the least I can do to pay forward all that you gave to us. I like to think that you’re with me at every step.

It’s interesting how I feel still connected to you both. I often tell people that our relationship with the people we love isn’t stifled by death, because death can’t kill love. I’ve learned about you both even more since you died. I encounter you in stories and anecdotes, poems and places, meals and songs. It feels like you’re both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. There are days when I feel you walking with me so strongly and others where I can’t wrap my head around the distance between us. I’m such a series of contradictions these days. Grief exacerbates such strange parts of our psyche. I don’t know if this letter is even making sense anymore.

Before I go, I just want to say that I love you. I love you more than I ever have before, and I will always love you. Thank you, so much for giving me the most precious gift of life and for being incredible parents. You both were not perfect — let’s be honest, but you were perfect for me. As long as I’m alive, you both will live inside of me. I will remember you in moments and share some of those memories with others who knew you and didn’t. In that way at least, you will live forever.

Love, your daughter,


Thank you to Francesca Saraco for sharing and being a part of opening up the conversation around grief. If you would like to share a letter please email

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