It took a while for it to sink in that my dear friend, celebrity fashion stylist Anthony Henderson-Strong, was really gone.

Just last week, I was trying on a wide-brimmed hat and peering skeptically at myself in the mirror when this thought popped in my head: “I’ll call Anthony and see what he thinks.”

That’s when the realization washed over me. He was dead. Diagnosed with lymphoma in April, he died suddenly on May 11. The hat was for his funeral.

No more random midday FaceTime calls just to chat.

No more photos from him popping up on my phone.

No more last-minute calls from me asking, “What should I wear?”

Weeks earlier, we discussed his upcoming chemotherapy as well as his plans to vacation in Spain with his family in the fall. “You can do it,” I told him, while silently praying he could.

I met Anthony during the early 2000s when I was a Daily News features writer. He was a budding fashion stylist who had worked with Eve, the rapper, and wanted to branch out into editorial work. I invited him to help out on a fashion spread. He wowed us with his talent as well as his work ethic. Anthony quickly became the Daily News’ go-to fashion stylist and worked on the annual Sexy Singles spread and other style-related projects. Because he focused on many of the hands-on details, I was able to concentrate on writing. We worked together for about 15 years. Along the way, I watched him create a beautiful life for himself.

All he ever wanted was everything, and that is what he got — a career as a fashion stylist for stars such as Sheryl Lee Ralph of Abbott Elementary, a loving husband, three adorable children, a spacious home in the Atlanta suburbs, and a dog named Chanel. His last professional gig was styling Marc Lamont Hill of Black News Tonight on BNC. His was a successful life.

Losing such a close friend made me reflect on my own mortality in a way I hadn’t in a while. I also was reminded of some important life lessons, especially the ones Anthony’s life personified.

Create the life you want

In 2010, Anthony told me about his plan to create a grassroots-level fashion week called “17 Days ... of Fashion.” My response? “That’s so long. Why not do it for just one day? Or maybe just for one week?” He plowed ahead anyway, and the two-week affair became a signature event. Over the years, I came to admire how fearless Anthony was when it came to pursuing his passion. The rest of us should be, too. You get just one life. You owe it to yourself to explore whatever ignites your passion.

Family matters

Anthony was all about fashion, but he prioritized family over everything. Together with his husband, Jason, he adopted three adorable children and relished his role as a stay-at-home parent. Better than many, Anthony truly lived the famous George Sand quote: “There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.”

Celebrate those you love

Upon learning that his newly adopted daughter had never had a birthday party, Anthony organized not one party but three days of back-to-back events for his little girl. He began by treating her and her friends to pedicures at a pamper party at a beauty salon. The next day, he hosted a kiddie party for her with a moon bounce, cotton candy machine, and a lavish dessert table. The fun concluded the following day with a catered brunch. Earlier this year, he hosted another brunch for LGBTQ members of his neighborhood. Anthony expected a lot out of life, but he gave much more than what he got.

Plan ahead for the inevitable

After his death, Anthony’s relatives remembered how expertly he handled funeral arrangements in February for his father. When it was time to organize his home-going service, they reached out to Anthony’s favorite caterer, event designer, and graphic artist, who had worked with him over the years and understood his exacting taste. As I participated in a Zoom planning discussion, I made a mental note to leave instructions for my husband. I want a traditional Catholic funeral mass and to be buried in Washington, D.C., near my parents’ gravesites. I can spell all of that out ahead of time. Grieving survivors have enough to deal with without having to also guess about what their loved ones would have wanted. Death will come for us all at some point. We might as well prepare for it.

Remember that tomorrow isn’t promised

Losing my friend at such a young age is a stark reminder for me of the fragile nature of life. None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. It is incumbent upon us to save and be mindful of the future, but not to the extent that we don’t also invest in living our best life today. Anthony was really good at that. He enjoyed family vacations and was known for posting food photos on social media — everything from elaborate restaurant meals to the hearty meals his husband cooked. More than a lot of folks, he did what made him happy. That’s perhaps the biggest takeaway I have from his all-too-short life: Take time to savor the good things in your life. Love on people while you can. You just never know.