Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when Max passed away. Max was only three years old and my best friend's son. His passing came as a complete shock. Friday morning he went to school just like any other day. That afternoon he became sick with what was later determined to be a regular ol' virus. That evening, a suspected heart arrhythmia related to the illness and his Duchenne muscular dystrophy very suddenly and unexpectedly took his life.
I spent a lot of time with Max when he was a baby, and helped watch him when his mommy returned to work. I didn't see as much of him as a toddler though, because we were in Montana for most of that time. I'm very thankful that the Wednesday before his passing, I was asked to pick him up from daycare and keep him for a short while until his parents could get back from an out of town business errand. It was already getting dark earlier and a lot of people had their Christmas lights on. I'll never forget his glee at seeing the lights as we drove home. In fact, it was a little annoying in the moment because he would shriek "LIGHTS!!" with each decorated house we passed. He was sooooo happy to see them. This year I hope to get outside lights put up at our new house and they will remind me of Max and I will hope they bring such utter joy to other little kids. When we got back to our house that evening, he laid on our living room floor and watched Dinosaur Train with Sedona for a while. When he left, I played with his gorgeous curly hair as he headed out the door.
Sedona and Max were only 9 months apart. His big sister, Holly, and Sierra are the same age, so when we got all the kids together to play, the big girls naturally gravitated towards each other and Sedona and Max would pair up. The dynamic is always slightly off kilter now. Sedona tries to fit in with the big girls, but she's just not quite old enough. I'm not sure she really fully comprehends what is going on in those situations or can articulate it, but I know she misses having her buddy there to team up with. We all miss Max. It's bittersweet to know that he only knew a life of simplicity and joy. He never had to deal with teasing or bullying, he never had to experience the full effects of his muscular dystrophy. His life was good and happy and joyful, and that's comforting to know. But still, we miss Max.