Blessed | Maya's Gifts


It’s Maya’s 18th birthday today.  It is a big one.

I am sitting in the room, where Maya was born.  I remember the feeling, waking up that morning that, “today is the day.”  Five hours later, she was in our arms.

Some say, “how fortunate; you were blessed with such a quick labor!”

I would remark, “yes, as far as time goes, it was short.  Please note, short doesn’t mean, ‘easy.’  It may have been short, but it was intense!”

This can be a metaphor for my daughter’s life.  Perhaps not only “intense,” but so very full.  Maya threw herself into many experiences with her full self.  She did so with her sense of adventure, sensitivity, creativity, silliness, kindness, social justice, compassion, beauty, nurturing friendships, intelligence, curiosity and love.  In the process, she had a tremendous impact, touching the lives of many.  She came into the world so quickly, and she left us all too quickly.

One by one, Maya’s friends are off to college.  They no longer have the safety net of being at home, where friends and family understand and share in their deep loss.  These friends have chosen to grace their dorm rooms with precious reminders; a gift that Maya once gave them, a photo of Maya, and more.  They continue to hold Maya close.  I am touched knowing this.

Words from Rabbi Jonathan during the heartbreaking moments at Maya’s burial stick.  We look at a gravestone and see, “2000-2015.”  Our hearts weep as we reflect on how short her life was.  “It’s not the dates,” he remarked, “it’s the dash that counts.”

Today, and every day, I do my best to embrace the dash.  Happy birthday, Maya!

Photos taken September 1, 2000 and 2004


    • Thank you Steve!
      I am comforted to know that we are being held.
      I deeply appreciate you and Linda holding us.
      Sending hugs.

  • Elise,
    Thank you for sharing-on Maya’s Birthday-the commemoration of her full presence in her life, that dash. Holding you all close in my heart.

  • dearest Elise,
    I awoke thinking of Maya, and today is imbued with her, as every September 1 is. I love that photo of Adin holding aloft baby Maya, so joyous (and I was there!). Thank you for the gift of Maya, her first day and so many others. We treasure her.

    • Dear Leslie,
      Yes! That was quite an ecstatic moment for Adin! You surely were there! And you continue to be so present. For this I share deep gratitude.
      xxoo, Elise

    • Thank you, Blaze.
      What a blessing too, to have Rabbi Jonathan in our lives; among many other things to shed light on that dash. I’m glad that our paths cross at Woodstock Jewish Congregation.

  • I love you deeply. I am continuously touched by how beautifully you express the spectrum of experiences and emotions that Maya’s intense dash created. Beyond the dash, Maya continues to stir up love. xox

    • Dear Pam,
      You are so right. I grappled with sharing the following in this post; now seems like a good opportunity. Just last night, I met a father and his two sweet young daughters for the first time. He never knew our family, or Maya, but he knew of us all. He and his friends are in recovery and have been touched by Maya’s story, our story. The love does continue to get stirred beyond the dash.
      Love you!

  • I remember feeling some comfort from Rabbi Jonathan’s message then and appreciate hearing it again now. Maya certainly had an enormous impact on so many of us. Even people who didn’t know her learned so much from her. I hope she felt that and the love of all of us who were in her life.
    Happy Birthday angel
    Aunt Jody

  • Dear Elise,
    I have been busy setting up my classroom for the new year and I came across some photos you gave me of the precious year I shared with Maya. Looking at her and the other children frozen in time in those photos filled me with many lovely memories. Thank you for those pictures and for the gift of Maya and the opportunity to share our “dashes” if only for a year.
    Sending you, Matthew, Adin and Sasha much love and comfort always.

    • Dear Lilly,
      I am now going back in time to Maya’s precious second grade class experience with you. You were such a gift to Maya; you really understood her. She felt heard and held by you. I trust that I thanked you back then, but I will thank you again now.
      Yes, it is sharing the “dashes” that makes life so meaningful.
      Love, Elise

  • Elise,

    I ache with you at the shortness of Maya’s Dash. Although one can be grateful for the beauty inherent and shared with the Dash she ran- we Mom’s carry a very raw pain wanting what cannot be; a longer Dash. But you have so beautifully embraced what IS and continue to inspire and love those in your circle so we can all appreciate, accept and stand in awe at the Dashes our loved ones bring into this world. I love every moment I am able to get to know Maya just a little bit more through your posts. Much love being sent.

    • Dear Lani,
      I am moved by your words. There is that struggle, and hopefully at times, that balance. To ache and accept. To carry the pain and embrace what is. I am sorry to share this challenge that we both bear.
      It is comforting to know that you enjoy learning about Maya through this blog.
      Sending love your way,

  • I am always thinking of you and continually sending warmth your way. Thanks for always sharing such personal moments.

    • Thank you so much, Audrey, for your kind message.
      I am touched knowing friends from childhood, who I haven’t seen for decades, have me in their hearts.
      My true sense is that the warmth is working. It would be hard to be here otherwise.
      In gratitude,

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