The price we pay for love

This past week, the world lost someone important. Though I did not know Mason Shaffir as well as many of those around me, I am beyond grateful to have been introduced to him and thankful that I was able to spend what time I could with him. Friends of Mason know that he was a talented, bright young man whose smile could catch a room on fire as it spread. You could hear his laugh from across a party and look over to see him surrounded by other happy faces, enjoying whatever story he was telling (or his spot-on Rick and Morty impressions). He was a talented artist who paid such care to his craft. He was kind -- incredibly, achingly kind -- and always genuine with his concern for others. Mason was someone, I think, who could feel everything in the world all at once and still give you a smile, despite the weight he must have been carrying.

I am grateful to have known Mason, and I will miss bumping into him as I walk around downtown. I am in awe of the strength I see in all of his friends, as they pull together and hold onto one another through these tough days. To say that I am saddened or sorry over the loss of such a wonderful, gentle person is too small a statement, but there are no other words that can come close in such times, so sorry will have to suffice.

There's a quote that's been floating in my mind these past few days. I think it was originally from Queen Elizabeth II. "Grief is the price we pay for love." It's a terrible feeling to be heartbroken over such a loss, as I see so many who knew Mason (no matter how well) are, but it's a fair price. The pain felt in the aftermath of his death is all the proof you need of what an impact Mason left on this world. It hurts because we cared, because this matters, because he mattered so much.

It hurts because we opened ourselves up to experiences, good and bad, and let someone in to touch our lives. It hurts to know we won't have that bright light anymore, because we had gotten so used to it and don't know what to do now that the world is a little darker. But in his flickering absence, I can see the lights of those who loved him flare a little brighter in response. It doesn't compensate, but it's just another way he is being remembered. We loved him, and this grief may not be an easy price to pay, but it is one we will all do so willingly because this pain was worth the joy he brought while he was here with us.

This weekend, I've been hugging friends longer, squeezing hands tighter -- reaching out to friends I haven't spoken to for a while to see how they are doing. These things may seem small, but they are big. Sometimes we never know how big they are. I am going to remember to do this more often, to be a better friend while I can. I am learning so much from those around me in the strength and courage they exhibit. It is truly beautiful how powerful love and friendship can be.

If you have the means to do so, please donate to the Mason Shaffir Memorial Fund for the charity AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), a leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. And please, if you are having a hard time, or see friends around you struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to ask for or offer help; it is one of the bravest things you can do.

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