My son, Maxwell Defiance Landbeck, was killed early the morning of July 13, 2014. I’ve written about Max before, about our troubles. This post is my effort to make sense of his death. To find personal context and peace with it, to see the meaning in our loss and grief. It is comprised mostly of the remarks I gave at his memorial service, though I've included a few passages from the eulogy his sister read (the entire eulogy is here).
"Grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at their suffering or death. The only way to avoid grief would be to not experience the love; and it is the love that gives life its richness and meaning."A little over two years ago, Max was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In the months prior to that, he struggled with substance abuse. It is now obvious he was self-medicating. The burden of bi-polar disorder is swinging between depressive and manic episodes. For Max, when he was Manic, he would become delusional. Delusions of different realities, grandiose visions and fantasies. He was never violent, but pursued his bizarre notions no matter how strange or dangerous.
When Max would use drugs, even marijuana, he became even more delusional. But he sought out bizarre drugs, custom hallucinogens, spice, gleefully experimenting with substances that were not technically illegal. During these years, family and friends tried to help him, offering him a place to live if he promised to quit for good. Max was easy to love, but difficult to live with. Addiction is a terrible burden. He could not resist the draw of trying drugs one more time. Each time Max was certain that it would help. Each time he was terribly wrong.
In the very early morning of Sunday, July 13 Max was struck by a freight train and killed instantly.