“Pack” Maya | Maya's Gifts

“Pack” Maya

I have not been to Cape Cod since my last trip there with Maya.  Why did we go, just the two of us then?  During our family trips each summer of her life, one of our favorite rituals has been to see the seals as they take their rest on a sandbar.  This activity is dependent on many conditions, the moon, the tides, the fog, the time of day (or night) and the agenda of the family (and sometimes friends who vacation with us).  During our family trip in the summer of 2015, in spite of our efforts, we failed to see the seals.  I know that the best chance to see them is at the time that the full moon is rising.  Maya gave this gift to me; together, we made our way to the Cape, just the two of us, to see the seals.

I relive this weekend in slow motion; Maya teaching me long boarding, the movies, binge watching food truck shows late at night, playing with puns, Commercial Street, and yes, the seals.  We did get to see them, hundreds of them, that evening in late September, as the sunset and the full moon rose.  This is how we spent the last weekend of Maya’s life.  I have not been there since.

I long to go.  But when negotiating such decisions, I am not alone.  It has not been time for our family to go.  I have learned that for people in sobriety, it is safest for them to stay away from people, places and things that may trigger discomfort. Is this similar?  For me, it is not addiction, but the pull.  There is surely something about retracing the footsteps, the campfires, the eateries, the rock hopping and bike rides.  Does the heavy hole become even more exposed with these reminders?  I live with that hole all of the time, whether I’m in places that hold such memories or not.  And, I understand that this trip has to wait.  I will get back there when it is time.

Now, I am forming other memories; many of them.  I recently have had the privilege of traveling to places unfamiliar to me.  There is a bit of a relief in the newness.  I can adventure without the constant flood of memories.  I just have to chuckle when Maya comes through.  Sometimes, it feels as if she is just tapping me on the shoulder, or even clobbering me over the head, jokingly saying, “hey mom, I’m here!”  On our most recent trip to Brazil, there were so many of these “taps”.

  • When given the key to our hotel room, what floor was it on? 11, of course!
  • On the morning we arrived, we chatted with a gentleman after services at shul, he let us know the name of his business. What was it?   Pakmaya!
  • A rainbow greeted us when we arrived at our second destination of the journey
  • After a dance class, I found myself comforting a woman who was crying in the changing room. What was the source of her tears?  Yes, deep grief.
  • It is bound to occur, the question from an innocent stranger, “how many children do you have?”
  • As always, there is a certain kind of wind or bird or dragonfly, sweeping by that is sending a message.

I love being open to these taps and clobbers.  When possible, I can smile, or even laugh. Tears also come with my openness.  Yes, even in these new places, creating new memories, I welcome Maya’s “voice” and a reminder of her love.


  • Your VOICE is pure praise of beautiful Maya, her radiance is upon you always. I hold you both in my heart of hearts….

  • On top of everything else, Maya has helped forge you into a beautiful writer. Beautiful memories, thanks for sharing what you have so lovingly preserved.

    You gave her so much, such a good life. You’re an amazing mother, and she is blessed to be your daughter.

    sending love . . .

  • Dear Elise,

    I am just returning from the Cape, and on Friday morning, the tides and moon aligned for a rare opportunity to be with the seals on the Head of the Meadow sandbar one early morning. They were beautiful and playful, and my 30 minutes of time by myself with them left me overwhelmingly grateful and returning with renewed perspective. Please know that the seals are so plentiful, and I am sure, patiently awaiting your family’s return…when the time is right.

    • Dear David,
      It really warms my heart to imagine you there with the seals just yesterday morning! Witnessing them on that sandbar by our very special Head of the Meadow, is surely a gift! I would always marvel at how they’ve been doing this for a very, very long time. So yes, I trust that they will be there…when the time is right.
      Thank you!

  • I can understand your hesitance to revisit those special places you once shared with your beloved Maya….. For me, when places that once held happy memories become sad reminders, I choose to let them go….. As time passes, then maybe….. I can go back. But, it will be time, when it is time. Thank you for sharing this, Elise.

    • Dear Lisa,
      I appreciate hearing your perspective, and that in this, I am not alone. Time. I will give this particular trip some time.
      Thank you.

  • My dearest Elise,
    This is one of my most favorite entries since you began sharing the love between you, and Maya. There is a maturing quality to your grief now….. Your memories bring a smile, as much as they bring tears. These are the tears that comfort, that soothe the everlasting ache within. As I have now experienced in your presence, Maya Gold is in spirit communication with you all the time. So present, through the sheerest of veils, revealing to her loving mother, that indeed you will never truly, be apart from one another. I’m with you, sweet friend. Blessings, Mercedes

    • Dear Mercedes,
      I have not thought about the maturing quality of my grief. I know that my grief will always be with me, as it is not something that we “go through”. I wonder how it will continue to shift over time. Based on our connection, Mercedes, I trust that you will witness the ongoing shifts.
      Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing all of this, poignant and true, as always – Sending you much love,
    Rabbi Jonathan

  • dearest Elise,
    such a rich and close weekend with Maya and the seals. What a gift, thank you for sharing it.

    Recently, I dreamed that I visited Maya’s grave.
    I lay down on the mound of soil.
    In the dream, I awoke at dawn, having slept there all night;
    a soft rain soaked the earth.
    A feeling of watering as nurturing and bringing forth…

    with love,

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