Krstian Alfonso, Victoria Konefal days hope ciara jj

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We now know where Hope went… but it raises a lot of questions about Ciara’s return.

When last we saw Days of Our Lives‘ Hope, she was struggling mightily to accept the news that her beloved daughter was supposedly dead. Given that the scenes were the last taped by Kristian Alfonso before her exit, the soap universe was left wondering how in the world the show would explain Hope’s absence. Now, thanks to a letter the character wrote to her cousin Jennifer, we know that the grieving mom has left town to search for the daughter she simply refuses to accept is gone forever.

As the rest of Salem gathered for Ciara’s memorial service, Jennifer read the letter in which Hope admitted that she’d left rather than mark the passing of another child. “I’ve been through one child’s funeral, my precious Zach,” Jennifer read aloud. Hope then admitted that at the time, she’d pushed Bo away rather than be by his side so they could comfort one another.

“Oh God, how I wish Bo was here with me now,” the missive continued, “but I know if he were, he wouldn’t accept that his sweet girl is gone, and he’d do anything, go anywhere, to find her.” Despite all the evidence indicating otherwise, Hope admitted that she was “still holding on” to the one-in-a-million chance that Ciara was somehow alive. “My precious girl is brave like her dad, strong like him, too, and street-smart. So I know in my heart that she would have found a way to get away from [Vincent].”

More: What Kristian Alfonso’s working on next

So rather than allow the memorial to snuff out that flickering hope, the detective had set out to locate Ciara. “I know I couldn’t live with myself if I gave up on my sweet girl, so I never will,” wrote Hope, finally giving viewers clarity as to where the character had gone.

That said, what happens if and when Ciara does come back to the canvas, whether played by Victoria Konefal or a recast? Should that day come — and certainly, the show left the door wide open for that possibility — what would that mean for Hope? Alfonso has made it fairly clear that while she is not retiring from acting, she’s about as likely to reappear in Salem as pigs are to take flight. While we can always hold out hope that she might change her mind, Days of Our Lives would have only two real options, should that not happen: either have Hope meet her maker off screen or have another actress take over the iconic role.

As difficult as it is to imagine anyone other than Alfonso as Hope, it’s something we have spent a bit of time contemplating. So before hitting the comments to list all the reasons why you would never accept another actress in the part, take a moment to visit the gallery below to see if any of the soap alumni we suggest might possibly, just possibly, change your mind!