Thursday June 6th: Love has Everything to do with it!
June 6, 2024
Friday June 7th: The Lord’s love
June 7, 2024

Lessons to learn about living taught by dying

By Camille Ramdial Cumberbatch

The sound of silence now permeates my home. This is a strange occurrence as my husband Michael’s daily routine was sitting on our couch in the living room, watching TV at a very high volume due to his hearing issues. Many times as you passed the room or came into the house, you would have to ask Michael to “please, lower the volume”. Now, everyone comments about how quiet the house is since he has passed. I didn’t think I would miss the noise as much as I do.

When you have been in a relationship with someone for more than quarter of a century, it is very difficult trying to come to terms with their absence. I miss hearing his voice singing to me his favourite songs: ‘Unforgettable’ by Nat King Cole and ‘I give her all my love’ by The Beatles. I miss his intellectual discussions about life, politics, change, about making a difference in the world, about faith and his relationship with God, about his family or upbringing, for example. Sometimes, he would tell me the same story or experience multiple times and, of course, I would impatiently say to him, “Mike, you’ve told me this about 15 times already.” I wish now he was here to make it the 16th time.

I miss holding his hands while sitting on the couch watching television together, or at the cinema watching a movie, which was his favourite pastime. I miss his touch, when we would simply lean against each other, or he would hug my shoulder.

Michael’s passing, painful as it is, has helped me learn many critical things, which I pray to apply in my remaining years of life. Some I wish to share with you.

1. Don’t take for granted the people you love and who love you. In our daily busyness, we may sometimes become overwhelmed or distracted and lose focus about what’s important. Based on where we are in our lives, we may have different priorities to others, understandably. I wish to suggest that relationships with the important people in our lives should always be a priority. Let us fully embrace and enjoy all our interactions with them— conversations, storytelling and even arguments. Let us not have a sense of regret or unfulfillment if they were to leave us, unexpectedly.

2. Treasure and be mindful of the words we share with our loved ones. The last words my husband said to me the night before he became unconscious and then subsequently passed were, “Camille, I thank you for caring for me and each day I love you more and more.” I treasure those words which were some of his last to me. Unforgettable!! Saying ‘I love you’ is a very powerful affirmation of your feelings for your loved ones. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way to express yourself, as you may not know if it will be your last.

3. Live your life intentionally and help others along the way. Michael’s framework for his life was based on three principles, “Have impact. Be relevant. Build community!” This philosophy is one that I too use in my life and which his children aim to internalise as a living legacy and testament to his influence on them. When people became aware of his passing, I was inundated with calls and messages from those who had known him for as long as over 50 years to those who only knew him recently. Most of these people shared how Michael had in some way or the other significantly impacted their lives. He helped them grow into being the person they were now through his mentorship, guidance, and leadership. In small and in big ways, Michael fulfilled his life’s purpose, always aiming to help people fulfil their potential and be the best they could be.

Michael was also a man who always had a big purpose-driven vision for himself, his family, and his country, strongly grounded in faith—faith in himself and God. This is the main lesson I aim to actualise—to fulfil my purpose and support our son, Joshua too, so we live our life to the fullest, in faith, in love, and in service to others.