By Michael Armijo
When I was growing up, I had a great friend named Todd Mestas. When I would go to his house, sometimes we would sit down to have lunch and eat a sandwich along with a few chips, a glass of milk, and two Oreo cookies. If I asked for more cookies, Todd’s mother would simply say, “Two is enough.” There was no need for overindulgence. We would all eat together and function as a family. My time with Todd taught me about limits and structure.
I also had a friend named Craig Swanson. Craig taught me about business, computers, repair and marketing. My time with Craig taught me about work skills.
Another friend of mine was Stephan Morrow. He reminded me of Tony Soprano, and would always say “come to papa” when I was sad or struggling. My time with Stephan taught me you can be tough and tender.
Mike Mendez was another friend of mine. Mike taught me about family, and how to be involved. My time with Mike encouraged me to be a good husband.
My very best friend was Jeffrey Lowe. Jeff was a reserve Sheriff. When I first started my company 17 years ago, Jeff encouraged me and helped me represent what I was trying to do. At that time I was nervous and insecure. My time with Jeff taught me about confidence and generosity of time.
My mother’s name is Marie Armijo. She used to tell me on a weekly basis that she wouldn’t know what she would do without me. She said that she will, and has, always loved me. My time with my mother taught me that I was always loved.
I grew up in a world of abuse and neglect, but all of the things that I learned from people that I cared about – and who I knew cared about me – helped me to get through my fears and insecurities. Every time I would visit them, it would reinforce these life lessons.
Now, each of these individuals – so dear to me – has passed away within the last two years. In this, I realized that a little piece of me died with each one of them. I found myself empty and no longer knowing who I was.
It is interesting how we subconsciously react to certain tragedies. Sometimes we don’t realize the depths to which death can affect us; personal loss can change us and give us a feeling that we have lost control.
Fortunately, I have discovered what these losses have done to me. I now understand that I have not lost the value of my time spent with these loved ones. Instead, I have the precious gifts that they unselfishly gave me. Those gifts can never be taken from me.
As I reflect on the wonderful memories that I have surrounding these people, I will accept the grieving process and be thankful. I will honor these individuals by being grateful for all the gifts that they have given me – for these are all gifts that make me who I am.