This week will mark one year since 15-year-old Westhampton Beach High School student Max Bramwell died after complications from a battle with leukemia, on October 6, 2011.
After his death, family, friends, and a devastated community came together in an outpouring of love to ensure that Max, and his legacy, would live forever.
"It's hard to believe that it's been a year since our son Max passed away," said Max's father, Henry Bramwell, on Monday. "It is clear to us now that we were in a state of shock after Max's passing. I guess that's the body's way of coping with such a tragic event."
Bramwell added that twelve months since Max's death have been filled with pain; Max's grandmother also died a few months after their son.
"A year later, we watch Max's friends and classmates make plans for their future, and while they are preparing for college, we are planning for a life without our son," Bramwell said.
He added that he and his wife, Dana, are grateful for their younger son, Jake.
"Jake has given us the strength to continue, and we look to forward to the day when he graduates from college and has a family of his own," Bramwell said.
Solace has also been found in a tremendous show of support and love by scores of friends and neighbors, including a host of Max's teenaged friends, who have been a source of comfort over the past year, Bramwell said.
"We are blessed to live in a town where the entire community has supported us," Bramwell said. "Max's classmates have honored his memory by raising money for leukemia and placing plaques and benches at the school in his honor."
Tributes to Max include a bench with a plaque that were placed behind the elementary school, and another bench and plaque that were placed at the high school.
In addition, a paving stone was placed at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, and several trees were planted in Max's name, one of them in Israel.
This past summer, all 175 players who played in Hamptons Collegiate Baseball -- Bramwell is the director of marketing for the organization -- wore hats with Max's initials on the back.
In addition, over the past months, as they banded together to grapple with their sense of profound loss, Max's classmates and friends sold orange wristbands with Max's name, and raised money for the bench and plaque at the high school; they also held a car wash that raised money for the bench behind the elementary school and purchased an iPad so that Max could stay in touch with classmates while he was in the hospital.
A dance was also held to honor Max last fall.
And the efforts continue: On October 25, Max's friends will partipate in the Light the Night Walk for Leukemia at Atlantis Aquarium; a Facebook page has been set up for participants to sign up and join a team in Max's name. Max's friends are also organizing a dodgeball fundraiser later this month.
On Monday, Max's parents donated his treasured piano to the Raynor Country Day School.
"Max started playing at age four, and we are grateful that music will one again be played on his piano," Bramwell said.
Last year, when they heard that their friend had died, young people poured their hearts into a fundraiser, started a Facebook page in his memory and created a YouTube video so that his life would be forever celebrated.
"Max was a great kid who will be deeply missed," said Chris Herr, Westhampton Beach High School principal, at the time.