The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Message from teenager’s life & death is clear: Love

The Schwolert family should be celebrating their son’s high school graduation this month. Instead, they’ll dedicate the renovated gym at Faith Lutheran Church, Flower Mound, Texas, now renamed the “Love to the MAX Center.”

Max Schwolert, 17, was a high-profile victim of the winter’s influenza outbreak that, for him, turned into a staph infection. He died at a St. Paul, Minn., hospital four days after celebrating Christmas with his extended family in Amery, Wis.

The Schwolerts were scheduled to leave for Texas Dec. 26, but instead were at the Amery emergency room. “[Max] looked at me and said, ‘I’m scared, Mom,’ ” Melanie (Teig) Schwolert, recalled. “He had tears, and I said, ‘I am too, Max,’ and he gathered himself and said, ‘It’s going to be OK, Mom. I love you.’”

It was their last coherent conversation before Max was airlifted to St. Paul. Family and friends then spent four days waiting, watching and praying.

Max’s dad, Tom, describes the experience as “a wave of spirit [that came through the hospital] like nothing I’ve ever experienced. How powerful it was to see my family and how grounded they were in faith throughout. All the things [related to faith] we hope as parents that they catch came together.”

When it was time to make difficult decisions, Max’s older and younger sisters, Jazmine (“Jazzy”) and Zoey, “knew they were sending Max to God,” Tom said.

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