A letter to Maya’s friends | Maya's Gifts

A letter to Maya’s friends

Dear Graduating Class of 2018,

I honor you.  This milestone is remarkable for any teen.  It is even more remarkable for you.

You have had your community, our community to hold you.  As you graduate and move on, there will not be the shoulder of a friend in the hallway, the knowing when someone looks into the light of your eyes, the comfort of others at home who know and understand your profound loss.  I trust that despite the distance these supports will always be there for you.

When I see you, I see Maya shining through you.  The sadness, the silliness, the depth, the empathy, beauty, sense of social justice, connections, sensitivity, adventure, creativity, authenticity and love.  It is all there.  What a gift that Maya shared herself so fully with so many.  It gives me joy to know that YOU were among her friends.  You touched her and meant the world to her.  For this, I offer you deep gratitude.

I am here and welcome staying connected.  If you are moved, please stay in touch.  I cherish learning of your future challenges and milestones.  I wish only the best for you.  I hope you find people, places and things to do that you love and that your dreams are fulfilled.  I hold you in my heart as you begin your journey as a young adult.

With tenderness and love,


All photos were taken at Minnewaska State Park on Graduation Day, June 22, 2018


  • So Beautiful and thoughtful of you Elise to reach out to Maya’s friends… and the pictures were so moving and beautiful as well. Love to you Elise from your old friend since second grade…Te!

  • Dear Elise,
    Thank you for this. My heart is warmed! You are kind and powerful- values I teach to the littles each day. Thank you for all of your wisdom and ability to express and see the love in all of us.

  • Elise, thank you for sharing this beautiful letter. It is very moving and I am especially touched by the photos you took at Minnewaska today. What grace in the blue butterfly, the Mountain Laurel blossoms, the heart rock. Sending deep love and gratitude to you. Sarah

  • I feel such a sense of connection with you as a mother of a daughter, as a social worker, and as someone who has worked with children for 30 years in schools. We just lost a senior at Arlington High (where I work) due to a tragic accident and her community is still reeling even as her peers graduate today. Thanks for your beautiful profound words and staying connected to your daughter’s friends on their graduation day.

  • Elise,
    Beautifully said. I get a real sense of community from your description, reflection, and your conveyance. I see you creating a smile even when that is a challenge, and the message is connection, so positive.
    Thank you for sharing.

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