I just heard from a dear friend that her brother has passed away. He was 21 years old, and she is heartbroken.

For me, first shock, then sadness. Death is so raw and real, so intense, so permanent. It’s strong presence feels much like that of love … if love were filled with shadows instead of light, despair instead of hope, a void instead of a heart.

She was on my “call back list” — the “not-as-urgent” voicemails that I keep meaning to return. So why did I wait? I thought of her today actually, kindly, with the thoughts of “I’ll call her when I can,” then moving back into the work, the life, the busy. But what about the connection? Is that really something that I am willing to put on hold as weeks pass by, even minutes?

As much as we hear this, I don’t think we can hear it enough. Tell the ones you love them that you do, that you love them now, and then again, and again. Don’t push the return calls and the coffee dates to another time, commit to the connection and hold it closely.

We all have our time, and this young soul’s life was only a small flame, just learning how to become a radiant fire. If I could see him now, I would tell him that others see his light, maybe even more than he sees it. I would tell him to love himself unconditionally, and to love others the same way, and I would say to him, and I do, that your light will always stay with all those who you have illuminated.