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Oct 7, 2011 11:06 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hundreds Turn Out To Say Goodbye To 15-Year-Old Westhampton Beach Student

Editor's Note:

To view the video classmates made honoring Max, click here: watch-v=DsyYNXdz01w

To visit the Facebook page in max's honor, click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RIP-Max-Bramwell/256252637743820?sk=wall

Oct 12, 2011 11:43 AM

On a weekend of warm, sunny October days, hundreds of mourners filed solemnly into the Follett & Werner Funeral Home in Westhampton Beach to say goodbye to Max Bramwell, 15, who died on Thursday, October 6, after complications from a battle with leukemia.

Inside the funeral home, hundreds of photographs depicted Max’s life as a baby, a little boy, and a young man who was well-loved and lost too soon. Photographs of Max at Disney World, at Sesame Place, on Halloween and at Christmas, and surrounded by his family and friends were mounted in large collages, near a pair of Mickey Mouse ears embroidered with his name and other souvenirs of Max’s short life.

Surrounded by heart-shaped wreaths of flowers, with sunflowers and roses draping his coffin, Max was laid to rest with his favorite stuffed animals, a childhood blanket, and the hat from the McDonald’s in Hampton Bays where he worked last summer.

A community was in mourning after news of Max’s passing spread; the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center placed his name and the dates of his life on the marquee.

Max’s heartbroken friends are gathering donations for a memorial dedicated to his life, perhaps a bench or a plaque to be placed either in the Village of Westhampton Beach or at Westhampton Beach High School, where Max was a sophomore. Other ideas include T-shirts with Max’s photo and favorite quote, which will be sold to raise funds for the memorial, and possibly keeping Max’s locker intact in his honor.

The love and support of Max’s loyal young friends, who have commenced with fundraising efforts on their own, is keeping his family strong during the darkest of hours, said Henry Bramwell, Max’s father. He added that the Bramwell family plans to create a scholarship in their son’s name to help other students at Westhampton Beach High School pursue their dreams.

Embracing family and friends who came to pay their respects on Sunday, Dana Bramwell, Max’s mother, wore an orange bracelet with her son’s name that had been created and sold by fellow students during a fundraiser earlier this month.

During an interview on Friday, Mr. Bramwell said he does not know how he will get through the painful days ahead.

“It’s indescribable to lose a child,” Mr. Bramwell, a Westhampton resident, said Friday. “I was collecting photos for a collage for the funeral home, and I saw the photo of his last birthday, our last family vacation, his last Christmas,” he said. “When you see that picture of him, sitting in front of his 15th birthday cake, and knowing there will be no more—that it was the last time he will celebrate his birthday—it’s tough.

“I don’t know how you get through this. I always thought I could come up with the answers, but this time, I can’t.”

Mr. Bramwell said Max, who was born in Korea and adopted when he was only 4 months old, was a gift beyond measure for him and his wife, Dana. The couple, who had been trying for six years to conceive a baby, fell in love with Max the first time they saw his photo.

“He was a miracle baby,” Mr. Bramwell said. “Before that, my wife and I were just a couple. When Max came, we were a family.”

Just two months after adopting Max, their family was blessed with another miracle, when Ms. Bramwell became pregnant with the couple’s younger son, Jake, 14.

The family only learned in September that Max was sick. A healthy child, Max had begun to feel tired and had started vomiting. His pediatrician, noting that Max looked jaundiced, sent him for blood work.

Next, the Bramwells got an urgent phone call, telling them that something was very wrong with their son’s blood test results. They rushed him to Stony Brook, but still didn’t realize the nightmare that was about to unfold.

“Then a doctor came in and said the four words that just totally rocked our world and changed our lives: ‘Your child has cancer,’” Mr. Bramwell said. “Once we heard the word ‘cancer,’ our battle was to get him well.”

Max was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rapid-growing cancer of the white blood cells. Although Mr. Bramwell said his family was told that the disease was treatable over a period of three and a half years, the first 28 days of chemotherapy were the most critical.

His father said Max was not always an easy patient—he didn’t like hospital food or needles—but made doctors and nurses laugh with his trademark humor. Despite the challenges, Mr. Bramwell said his son was courageous and determined, counting the days until he would be free from steroids, which had sparked the onset of diabetes.

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Rest in Peace Max. 15 is just too young. God Bless you and your family.
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Oct 7, 11 11:20 AM
Deepest sympathy to the Bramwell family. Rest in Peace!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Oct 7, 11 11:37 AM
God Bless
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 7, 11 1:43 PM
God bless you and your family. RIP Max.
By Four Seasons Caterer Southampt (1), Southampton on Oct 7, 11 3:13 PM
Sending strength, love and courage to Mr. And Mrs. Bramwell and Jake, as well as all of the friends that have been so deeply saddened by the loss of Max. God bless.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Oct 7, 11 4:04 PM
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 7, 11 5:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gas gangrene comes fron an infected wound.
By btdt (449), water mill on Oct 7, 11 6:57 PM
I wondered about that... I am so very sorry for this family. Reading this story brought tears to my eyes. Such love, and such sudden loss.
Poor things.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Oct 8, 11 10:14 AM
My thoughts and prayers to his family. So sad. Just too young.
By mightycolemack (15), Hampton Bays on Oct 7, 11 11:47 PM
My deepest sympathies ... God Bless .
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Oct 8, 11 6:37 PM
So sorry for your loss. God bless
By turnco02 (2), Bridgehampton on Oct 9, 11 11:16 AM
so very sorry
By quioguebirdfreak (25), quiogue on Oct 9, 11 7:59 PM
The thoughts and prayers of all us who teach religious education at Immaculate Conception Church are with the Bramwell family.
By Integrity Party Guy (26), Riverhead on Oct 10, 11 10:25 AM
smiling faces seems appropriate for teens death
By ghost (29), hampton bays on Oct 12, 11 8:28 PM
Max touched many lives in his short life. He will never be forgotten.
By SLCSouth (9), Southampton on Oct 12, 11 8:36 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By cardy uggs, kke on Oct 16, 11 8:47 AM
sorry for your loss. just shows that everyone should do the cheek swab if it can save a life
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Oct 18, 11 6:08 PM
Deepest sympathy to the family. Glad he had a chance to touch other's lives in a positive manner.
By suzer67 (51), nanuet on Oct 18, 11 6:10 PM