On August 22nd, 2018, Maximilien Garneau-Pillet passed away and we lost a shining light in our lives. We lost a true friend, a loving brother and son. At 24 years old, Max was taken from us much too early. Our friends all came together when we heard the news - some from abroad, others who had lost touch, some who couldn't make it but we know were there in spirit through their calls and messages. Some of us hadn't seen each other in years but as we gathered together in our loss, we were quickly reminded that the friendships we forged in the halls and classrooms of our high school, Selwyn House, or at the parks and basketball courts of Westmount were for life. We realized that all that time we spent together in our formative teenage years meant that we always had been and always will be inextricably tied to each other, bonded forever as a community - as a family.
Coming together in such a volume for the first time since those years, we all felt it: a sense of union in our love for each other and our love for Max. We were never afraid to say it but the words "I love you, brother" echoed out repeatedly in the rooms we gathered in. We all agreed it was something we wished we could say to Max just one more time.
The only way we knew how to grapple with the situation was to share memories of Max. We stifled our tears with laughter as we shared our favorite Max stories. Because of the sheer amount of memories and the massive effect of Max's booming presence in our lives, the memories came easily. Some of us remembered meeting Max in Grade 1 at Selwyn House with his blond mushroom cut and his ever-present smile, always ready to share his toys, to share his pet rabbit, to make a new friend. Those who met him later, in middle school and high school, felt the same. Some met him in arguments over girls but realized that they might just be best friends if they put the off-start to the side. And best friends, they became. No matter what, Max was always eager to see the best in people, to make a new friend for life.
It was easy when Max was such a loving, generous, kind, and inspiring man. With his boisterous hyuk-hyuk laugh, he lit up rooms. Everyone wanted to make Max laugh and see him smile. He was such a playful guy too with a great streak of pranks he would pull on us. One of his favorites was so simple but so effective. He would walk in front of you at a slightly higher pace. Then he would turn the corner and hide right there, waiting for you to get closer so he could pop out and scream with his hands above his head. At least one time, he accidentally scared a stranger instead - one memory among an ocean's worth that I will never forget. His pranks never failed to make him throw his head back and clap his hands in laughter. He was so sensitive and honest that you knew if he was laughing, he was genuinely happy and thankful to be sharing that time with you. He was more than comfortable in a larger social setting but Max also loved the one-on-ones. He would love to have someone over and just listen to music, watch movies, joke, and talk about life. To really take the time out of his day to bridge your life and his. He was easy to love because he had so much love to give back. He was a massive presence in all of our lives and a, if not the, major cornerstone in bringing a group of 30 different guys together as brothers. With the loss of Max, we all became acutely aware of the massive influence Max had in our lives, simply because he loved us, we loved him, and he wanted the people he loved to love each other too.
Beyond his big heart, Max was deeply talented and strong-willed. He strove constantly for self-improvement and he was an inspiring light to all of us. He was a guitar wizard, in the vein of Hendrix, Page, Greenwood, and Richards. I personally have sat at his feet, begging him to show me how to play like him. We learned to skateboard together but he picked it up so fast. He was working on his kickflip when some of us were trying not to fall off. He was an amazing and unique artist, sketching in his notebooks constantly. He painted an amazing mural in our high school. We all remembered that time because Max showed all of us the different versions of the design he came up with - making small revisions before deciding he was just going to start from scratch. When he put his mind to a goal, nothing could stop him. That was especially true when he found his calling: bodybuilding. It never mattered how many naysayers he had. He was going to prove them all wrong. And he did. He stopped schooling and poured his time and effort into his craft. He was already a big man, outplaying most in our football years, but before too long, he was a giant among men. The pride and joy he took in his craft as he participated in tournaments, showed us his awards, and reenacted his stage routine was something very special. We were watching our brother achieving his dream. How many of us can say we had the courage and the determination to follow through on our dreams? Not many. We were so proud and happy for him. We still are.
It's a pain like no other to know that we will not be able to watch Max continue to grow and succeed. To meet his wife. To have our kids play together. To share new memories and new experiences with him. Our only solace is that nothing, not even this, will tarnish or lessen all the years that we did share with Max. We have so many amazing life-defining memories together and we would never trade them away. We are all so thankful to have been a part of Max's life and to have had Max be such an integral part of ours.
For all our pain, we cannot begin to imagine the pain of Max's mother Beatrice and his sister Arielle. They were always so close-knit. Max didn’t have an easy life, but Beatrice and Arielle were always there for him. Whatever he needed, whether he knew he needed it or not, they were there. And Max loved them back with his whole heart. He was always so loving and so protective. Family was everything to Max. And it shows. Max was not the only one to welcome us into their lives. Beatrice and Arielle treated us like family just as much as Max did.
That is why we wanted to put this GoFundMe together in support of Max's family. Beatrice and Arielle have always been and will always be our family. Beyond making sure that we all remain connected, whether living abroad or not, we want to ensure that Beatrice and Arielle have access to all they need in this time.
The primary goal is to raise funds for grief and loss counselling for Beatrice and Arielle. Beatrice and Arielle will be the sole beneficiaries and will have exclusive access to the proceeds. Any amount which you are willing to donate will be deeply appreciated.
Together, I know we can achieve great things. Max always said, "As you think, so shall you become."
We love you and we miss you, Max, with every ounce of our being. We will carry you with us forever.
Rest in Peace, Maximilien Garneau-Pillet (1993-2018)
All our love,
Julian, Hunter, Phil, and the Boys
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