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Before You Go: How to submit your essay to your loved ones

Too often, we don’t tell people what they mean to us until it’s too late. So Maclean’s is publishing a series of essays, by everyday Canadians, about the people they love. Here’s how to submit yours.
(Top left): Simu Liu with his parents. (Bottom left): Teacher Meaghan Thompson (backrow second from right) with her Grade 6 “classroom family” at St. Margaret’s School in Victoria. (right): Gord Downie. (Contributed/Contributed/Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Too often in our lives, we come face to face with regret, and often about things that are said—or left unsaid—to the people we love the most. There can be a fear, too—whether it’s because of something as fundamental as death, or as flimsy as societal beliefs about how vulnerable people ought to be—that those loved ones might not ever have a chance to hear what we have to say. Even on a day-to-day basis, as we’re caught up in our hectic lives, we can forget to say “I love you,” or to expand on the broad, beautiful things that undergird that statement.

But we shouldn’t have to wait until our loved ones are gone to say how we really feel.

Inspired by the last year of Gord Downie’s life in which he told the people he loved the most exactly why he loved them, Maclean’s essay series “Before You Go” aims to give all Canadians an opportunity to share those words before it’s too late.

So far, our essays have included Evan Solomon on his family and the new ways they tell each other they love each other; elementary-school teacher Meaghan Thompson’s paean to the students who have passed through her classroom; Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu offering hard-earned gratitude to his immigrant parents; Laura Millar offering thanks to her oldest friend for a simple act of kindness from 40 years ago; and author Kelly S. Thompson, regretful of the distance created by a past falling-out with her sister, making the most of the time she has left with her after her sister received a cancer diagnosis; a son, thanking his now 100-year-old dad for making good on his vow to keep his family of four together even after the devastation of losing his wife four decades ago; and a father to his infant daughter, about why her name matters.

We have and will continue to publish more. And we want to hear your story, too.

The essays generally range between 600 and 900 words, and if accepted, they will be edited and/or condensed by a Maclean’s editor and sent back for approval before publishing. There is no deadline, as we will be accepting these essays indefinitely. They may appear in our print edition or online at macleans.ca. This series is open to any and all Canadians who wish to submit, though the person being written about must be alive. And as a general suggestion, whenever possible, focus on sharing specific personal anecdotes and unique stories that are different from those that have already been published, as those details show why this person is special to you or their community, and are what make these essays sing. We’re looking for unique stories about relationships, interestingly framed and beautifully told.

If you’d like to contribute your essay or letter to our series, please send it to [email protected].