A bag of seeds | Maya's Gifts

A bag of seeds

Ellen and I have been close friends for over twenty years. How amazing it was for me to be pregnant at the same time that Ellen was arranging to adopt her daughter. Maya and Tuli were both born in the same month. They’ve been friends since early infancy. What a gift it’s been to raise our daughters together. Ellen felt moved to write and I wanted to share this piece with you.

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I would like to thank Mathew and Elise for their generosity in sharing a piece of their journey with us all. Reading their blogs has been a profound honor and a source of deep inspiration. The writings that Elise and Mathew share take me back to my own memories of Maya at each stage of her precious life. From the infant girl beaming with joy and light to the adolescent publicly speaking out for what she believes on behalf of her classmates.  How unbearably painful that Maya is not here with us, creating more memories to hold dear. We had only fifteen years to share with Maya and be blessed by her presence. Despite the wisdom beyond her years, Maya didn’t yet know that pain has a way of passing, that there are pitfalls we need to avoid and that at times, we need help finding our way out of dark places. Maya had only just turned 15.


Maya had devoted friends who loved her dearly and continue to be protective of her memory; they know that Maya was unique and could not be fit into a limited “category.”  Their worlds have been shaken and they are still grieving the loss of their dear friend. Maya was also surrounded by adults who also are in shock; how could something like this happen to Maya…of all people?

So what do those of us who knew and loved Maya do, now that she is no longer with us?  We wake up each day and miss her.  We feel our sadness, some days the pain is worse than others, we share our grief with loved ones and friends, we cry together, we cry alone…we try to go on.  But perhaps there is more.

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Last night I was visited by Maya in a dream. Maya had been given a bag of seeds. She opened the bag, took a look inside and asked why there needed to be bone meal in the packet. Being a vegan, Maya would not have wanted to see any animal byproducts in the seed package…she would never have wanted to see any added suffering on the road to sowing seeds of change. Inspired by Maya’s kindness and compassion, perhaps we can work together to create the kind of world that Maya would have wanted for us all.  Although we will not have the privilege to watch Maya grow into the powerful adult she would have become, we can all hold her in our hearts as an inspiration and develop in ourselves and in our community the qualities that emanated from Maya’s soul.


In establishing the Maya Gold Foundation, Elise and Mathew have shared their commitment to the community, to Maya’s community…to our community. I am hoping and I trust that it is Elise and Mathew’s hope as well, that in honor of Maya, New Paltz becomes a unique community that is inspired by the values that were dear to Maya…a New Paltz in which we treat one another with kindness, compassion, love, respect and spread those values out to the world at large. May this be one of Maya’s gifts to us all.

 Ellen Marshall


  • Thank you, Ellen. I feel you speak for many of us who are deep in our own grief for Maya as well as our awareness and loving concern for Elise, Mathew, and Adin’s enormous loss.

  • From a Jungian perspective, I humbly suggest that the bone meal in the dream is symbolic of something deeper than a non-vegetarian additive. Why must our bones – the only part of us that endures beyond death – be included in the bag of seeds – that which comes alive in the future? Why must a meal made from our marrow – symbolic our deepest, most enduring beliefs, that which resonates with our most primal selves – be the food that nourishes the seeds of new life? The dream speaks of the unbroken continuum between past and future, between instinctual knowledge and surface consciousness. What is in our marrow not only does not perish, but nourishes that which is to come. Maya’s question brings our attention to this profound interconnection. Another gift from Maya in the form of an innocent but profound question. Thanks for sharing this wonderful dream!

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