Last Sunday, a man who I worked with closely for seven years – a colleague, a mentor, a friend – passed away, suffering a cardiac arrest in hospital as he was recovering from a stomach bypass operation.
The news was unexpected. At first I was filled with disbelief and shock. You see Max was larger than life. He was a people person through and through. He loved telling stories, very long ones so that you would find yourself walking out of his office two hours later when you only walked in to ask a quick question.
He made time for everyone, to listen, to help them and offer sage advice. He also made time to serve his community. Max was the co-founder of an amazing business; a longtime member of Rotary and past President; a supporter of the Austin Hospital and The Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre. These are just few of his contributions to this world.
I think it is because of his great love for people, and his tireless and endless service in this world, it seemed like he would go on forever but maybe his physical heart couldn’t contain the enormous amount of love that was in there any longer.
Once the shock passed, grief rolled in on overwhelming waves. At first the strength of my reaction seemed strange to me. I hadn’t seen Max in just over 18 months — not since his original business partner and my very dear friend, Lynne retired. And I hadn’t seen him often since I left Snowball 5 ½ years ago as I spent a lot of that time overseas.
The truth is that love goes beyond physical relationships. You don’t need to have been in regular contact with someone to feel the impact of their death. But also what I am calling grief is really like a massive bolt of overwhelming love — so much love it hurts — because that is what he has left me with, what he has left all of us who knew him.
When I think of Max, it’s not all those great things that he did that I remember first or most — it’s how he did them: tirelessly, devotedly, with joy and with love. This is the legacy of Max’s life.
It’s not what we do, where we go or what we achieve in this life that really matters but how we do them and who we are being every day of our lives. Are we bringing the best of ourselves? Are we bringing love and light to all that we do?
There is part of me that still can’t believe Max is no longer here on earth but I also know that his spirit lives on in all whose hearts he touched.
Vale Max Campbell. I am grateful to have known you, for the honour of having worked closely with you for seven years and to have loved you. May I live your legacy everyday of my life.
With love, courage and gratitude,
To follow my journey as I prepare to walk from Rome to Jerusalem in 2015 sign up for my newsletter here. You will also receive a copy of my Via Francigena video, Like a Pilgrim.