Service above Self

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The Legacy
6 min

Service above Self

Service above Self
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Words by:

Payal Guerrero

Illustration by:

Words by:

Payal Guerrero

Illustrator:

Contents

The first time I heard about Eterneva was when I was watching Shark Tank with my husband. I heard Garrett and Adelle share Eterneva’s story and how they had discovered a unique way to remember your loved one. I looked at my husband and recall saying, “This is so unique! What a beautiful way of capturing your loved one’s memory!” At first, I was fascinated by the concept of creating diamonds out of ashes and wondered how the technology worked. More I thought about it, I realized that this company would give people an opportunity to share the remarkable stories of their loved one with the rest of the world. It was apparent to me that talking about grief and loss in general was never an easy conversation to have for anyone.

When my closest friend from college, Michael Chu passed away, I found it incredibly difficult to talk to anyone about him. It seemed that everyone was dealing with his loss in different ways. I wanted to talk to my friends and family about how awesome he was and what a difference he had made in my life and in this world. Eterneva, thank you for giving me an opportunity to share the story of my friend, Michael.

Michael with his friend Liam

Michael, was a very special guy, he lived his life with the motto,

Service above Self

He was a strong, happy, quirky, incredibly selfless man who gave all his time and possessions to others.

Whoever met him, couldn’t help but like him.

He was the least judgmental person I have ever met. I knew him ever since 2006 at the Biomedical Engineering program at Arizona State University. He always had a smile on his face and was a happy person. One thing about Michael - he could eat and eat and eat and never get full. He always had a subway sandwich hidden in his pocket or a jar of peanut butter in his backpack in case he got hungry.

There's the peanut butter

In 2012, he finished his master’s in electrical engineering and got a job with PG&E in California. Once he moved there, he would keep in touch with me by calling me over the weekends. He would share stories about investing, books that he read and his love for toastmasters. He would proudly say that he was going to retire at 35 and stay in California so he could dedicate all his time to community service. He was part of the rotary club, non-profit organizations such as Keen to help children with special needs. His passion was food, community service, and investing so he could retire early.

One day I got an unusual call from him...

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He was asking for help and crying on the phone. Michael never cried. My heart broke when I heard him cry. He said that he had injured his back. It had been 5 months; he’s been on bedrest and he was not feeling better. He sounded like he was on a lot of pain meds and was very worried about his recovery. I talked to him for a while and promised him that everything will be okay. Weeks went by and I kept thinking that Michael would recover and be just fine.  

Unfortunately, I was completely wrong! I did not realize that Michael was not only fighting the physical pain from his injury but was also struggling with depression. Michael decided to end his life to stop the pain. This horrifying tragedy devastated his family, friends, me and the entire community. I still struggle with the pain of losing Michael.

I realize that people can come in our lives, make a profound impact which we may not realize until they are gone. In Michael’s honor, I started working for Toastmasters, volunteering for the crisis support unit at Gilbert police department, and supporting non-profit organizations. I want to inspire the world to be selfless and give to others who are in need by sharing Michael’s story. Thank you again Eterneva for giving me an opportunity to share this remarkable person’s story.

 

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