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Column: I lost my friend too soon

Jenice Armstrong, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

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.

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