This Is Us

A Letter From My Daughter on the 4th Anniversary of Her Death

On having faith, and giving permission to let go

Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readMar 22, 2021


Illustration of a large bird spreading its wings. Light blue, yellow, and brown lines (with the dark blue background showing through) form ornate patterns on its feathers. Behind it float blue circles of various sizes that look like doilies.
Illustration by Jacqueline Dooley

“How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”
— Henry Scott Holland

Dear Mom,

The light is different here. If you saw how this place shines, I think you’d stop worrying about me. The light connects the landscape to every part of itself. It moves. It sparkles.

It links the souls together like pearls knotted in an endless strand. You know how pearls hold iridescence inside all those layers of shell? Well, if you look into the center of a pearl, you’ll get a taste of the light that surrounds me. Go do that now. You see?

When I died, there were people who waited like lanterns beside a path, guiding me to this place. You knew some of them. They’re waiting to guide you too.

Some nights, I try to show you where I am.

I wait until your consciousness slips close to the edge of sleep and I speak to you, but you never hear me. You don’t know I’m there because you’re looking for the wrong version of me.

I am a kaleidoscope of light, a forest of patterns, a bouquet of shifting fractals. You look past the…



Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss