EVANS HEAD MOURNS A LIFE CUT SHORT
By HELEN JACK firstname.lastname@example.org
MAX ACHURCH knew how to live life. Life to Max was about mates and about family, and he had plenty of both.
He loved making them laugh, he loved dancing his funny dance for them and he just plain loved being with them. Max knew when any of his friends were hurting, and he knew instinctively how to help them.
When he died suddenly on November 10, in his hometown of Evans Head, he was just 17 years old.
The whole town grieved and gathered to console his parents, Lee and Kim, sister Makenzy and brother Cain. At his funeral yesterday, more than 400 of his friends and family overflowed Evans Head Presbyterian Church to bid him farewell.
Laughter mixed with tears as letters from friends were read out describing Max's shyness, skill at hockey and his enjoyment working at the local Farmer Charlies fruit and vegies shop with his mum, who he would always call Kim when they were at work.
Max's best mate, Jake Barron, stood courageously before the congregation and described the painful gap in his life now his friend and hero was gone.
"You are a big part of my world and without you I am lost," he said. "The memories I hold are the best memories I could ask for.
"Our tennis matches where you were 10 times better that me, but you always insisted we kept going, encouraging me all the time.
"And all the hours we spent shopping with no worries about the cost.
"Max's life was never boring. I was myself around you because you were so full of life.
"This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I do not want to say goodbye. I will take you everywhere I go. I will miss you mate."
A photographic collage of Max with friends and family was screened for the congregation, as well as a video clip of that special dance Max would do.
There was laughter at the memories of this vibrant young man, followed quickly by tears and sobs as the reality of his absence became clear.
The Reverend Paul McKendrick said Max made the most of his short life by making the most of his relationships.
"There were so many photos of his friends and family on the walls in his room," he said.
"Max loved his home. He was running home on the night he died. It was a home where he knew was loved, a place where he was secure and where he felt safe."
Lee Achurch said he wanted to thank the community for their kindness in coming to visit and bringing flowers and food.
"We live in God's country," he said. "The kindness that has been shown to my family has blown us away and I want them to know how much this means to us."