Graceful Woman Warriors share wisdom

Feb 10, 2019

Four years after she passed away, Terri Luanna da Silva’s words are reaching more people than ever before thanks to her aunt and daughter.

Da Silva’s aunt, Laurie O’Neil, compiled, edited, and published Da Silva’s blog as “Graceful Woman Warrior,” a book which was published in December. The book follows da Silva’s journey from her diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 37 through the end of her life and beyond, with additional writing by O’Neil and letters to da Silva from her daughter, Marisa Alegria da Silva, who is a fourth grader at Quinn Elementary.

“We feel like she’s guiding us each and every step of the day,” said O’Neil.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the pair hosted a book signing event and talk at Dahlia Living. The event was, fittingly, Valentine’s Day themed — O’Neil said the book is all about love.

“The book is full of lessons on how to live with strength, with resiliency, with grace, with courage, with laughter, and most importantly, the whole Valentine’s theme — love,” O’Neil said.

“The story, Graceful Woman Warrior, is about my mom’s journey through breast cancer,” Marisa said. “And how she fought back.”

Marisa and O’Neil call the lessons that da Silva often ended her blog posts with — short meditations on mindfulness and finding joy — “grace lessons.”

Marisa hasn’t read most of the book yet, but will when she is older, but she did write the coda, which is composed of a series of letters she wrote to her mother.

Marisa and O’Neil gave a book talk to Marisa’s class at Quinn Elementary.

“It was cool,” Marisa said. “We were at the front of the class.”

After the duo told the class what the book was about, Marisa’s classmates began raising their hands to talk about the loved ones they had lost.

Marisa has also found community through empowerHER, an organization that supports girls who have lost their mothers. At an acting themed retreat with the group, Marisa wrote a monologue, which she read on Saturday.

“[Writing] makes me feel open to heaven and the earth,” Marisa said. “And now that I’ve said that, I feel that I’ve inspired more people and chose to be happy.”

O’Neil and da Silva will be having more book signing events, including one at the Congregational Church of South Dartmouth on March 31 beginning after services around 11:30 a.m. There will be another book signing event at Southworth Library on May 18.

O’Neil will be a guest on WCAI’s The Point with Mindy Todd on February 26.

For more information, or to purchase the book, go to