by Julia Haigh Lancaster, Pennsylvania
My friend, Max, was amazing for so many reasons. His outgoing personality and the way he was able to make you feel included is unmatched by anyone I’ve known. His ability to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and the way he wanted everyone to feel that way too was contagious. His laugh and smile are unforgettable. Max passed away on March 18, 2017, due to complications of Marfan Syndrome, yet his ability to bring people together continues to be inspiring.
For the past few years, I had spent the day that I have off for the beginning of spring break at the college I work for with Max. We’d go to see a movie then have drinks and a bite to eat. It was also perfect because this day was always right around his birthday (March 15), so I would also make him chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting—our favorite kind.
The last time I saw Max was on a day just like that—only two days before his birthday. I made him cupcakes just like the ones pictured. While I was visiting him, he had to eat one of them and insisted I have one, too. I declined since I still had a few at home. He mentioned several times how they were his absolute favorite and thanked me again and again.
Very shortly after Max passed away, three days after his birthday, his mom reached out to thank me for making the cupcakes. Although his dad couldn’t eat them, she said Max was kind enough to share them with her. It’s hard to describe how much something so simple meant, just because of those cupcakes.
It’s incredible how closely food can be tied to memories. Although making cupcakes is very often a bittersweet experience for me now, I realize how lucky I was to be able to spend the day with Max the last time I saw him—and for all the memories I have with him and the things he has taught me. I am also constantly grateful for the amazing support system I now have that includes Max’s family and friends.
The first picture I have included, featuring three cupcakes and blue plate, is a picture that I took as part of What’s Your Grief’s Exploring Grief Through Photography course that I took during the summer of 2017, which was a very helpful and wonderful experience. The second picture of the cupcakes I made last year when a small group of Max’s family and friends got together for his birthday.