Max Schwolert died from Influenza. Below is a blog writing shared by his sister Jazzy Schwolert.
December 29, 2013 is a day I have been dreading for months now. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the memories to come flooding back to me like they’ve already started to. I’m not ready for the overflow of messages from people sending their condolences. I’m not ready for the streams of tears my family will shed. I’m not ready to be forced to think about what happened on December 29, 2012.
I’m just not ready
But unfortunately, Time doesn’t care if I’m ready or not. Tomorrow will arrive shortly, and my emotions are everywhere. Currently, I’m mostly afraid. Afraid that tomorrow will not only bring sorrow, but that it will also bring back memories so vivid that I will feel the same strong emotions I felt a year ago… The fear when finding out Max’s kidneys were failing, and that he had to be care-flighted to Regions Hospital. The false hope when seeing his oxygen levels and blood pressure getting better and better. The anxiety in seeing those numbers go down, then back up again. The desperation during sleepless nights in constant prayer that Max would be healed. The agony when the doctor told us Max was virtually brain dead, and that keeping him on life support was just prolonging his death. The heartbreak while standing next to him in his hospital bed, our hands on his heart, telling him, “See you later” and “I love you” as we watched the heart rate monitor drop down to zero.
These memories are so clear to me that it in no way feels like an entire year has passed since my sweet brother died. These memories will stay with me forever, and although they are painfully vivid and undeniably real, I am thankful. I am thankful because the pain reminds me that Max was real and he was here, and he made such an impact on my life that pain is the only thing that makes sense to feel in losing him. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not have had those last moments in the hospital – to not be on that roller coaster of emotions with my family during Max’s illness and his death. Because Max’s love was so strong towards us, the pain in losing him seems much bigger.
But I guess that’s why they say there is beauty in pain and suffering. We hurt so bad because we loved him so much. And that, my friends, is beautiful.
And this is why we must try to rejoice in the memories we have with Max instead of thinking about the memories we didn’t get the chance to create. Now I don’t want to mislead you – there’s no way that on December 29th of every year I will be all smiles because I had time with my brother, ignoring the fact that he’s gone. Nobody expects that of me or of anyone else. The hurt will not go away. But what I am saying is that even though it’s hard to be happy in our suffering, we can still be joyful. We can find joy in knowing how many lives Max touched. We can find joy in our memories with him, which for most of us include many hilarious ones. We can find joy in knowing he is “chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool” with Jesus. We can find joy in knowing he is glowing with pride looking down at us from Heaven. And most of all, we can find joy in knowing that because of his radiant love for God and for people, each of our lives have been changed forever.
Our family has decided to call December 29th of each year Max’s “Resurrection Birthday”, remembering and celebrating the day that he got to go Home to our Savior. His body is no longer with us, but his soul is living with Jesus for the rest of eternity. And no matter how hard it may be, that is definitely something to celebrate.
Max, you are missed by everyone. I would give anything to jam in the car to Jack Johnson again with you, or to quote every line of The Grinch and Hot Rod with you, or to hear you make fun of me for loving One Direction, or to make fun of you for your awkward dance moves, or to hear you crack one more joke (your jokes were always the best). I miss laughing with you, brother. I know everyone else misses that too. We just miss you. And we want to say thank you for all you’ve showed us. Thank you for impacting us in ways we couldn’t fathom. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
You are forever my brother and I can’t wait to see you again.
I love you, Max.
LOVE to the MAX is an organization created by Max's family in memory of Max.