Monday, April 26, 2021

Happy birthday, Aida!

This is Aida. She's my best friend from high school and today is her birthday. 

You've seen her on this blog just a few times. That's because she left the country when we were in college to study medical school in the US, then married and started a family in France, and that's where she's been since. We both married men named Vincent and we are moms of boys! 

And in the last 25 years, we've seen each other maybe 10 times. It's tough to sustain a friendship over distance and time. We weren't there for each other much when we were growing up. Back then, in the 90s and early 2000s, there was only snail mail. Oh, and email of course. We try to catch up but life is a whirlwind of many changes and we have our new friends for those now. But Aida will always be special and I'll tell you why. 

You may be wondering why I chose to start this blog post with a photo of Aida holding my book. Seems like a post celebrating her shouldn't start with promoting something of mine. But that photo says so much about my dear friend. You see, she may be so far away but she always makes sure she stays in touch and supports her friends in whatever we do. Every single thing we achieve, she's the first to be happy for us and to celebrate with us - even though she's so far away! All her friends are so lucky to have someone so thoughtful in our life.

Aida's friendship is more than just words of affirmation from her. She actually does things to make us feel special. She always tries to chat with me on Messenger, but because of the time difference, I very seldom get to say hi back. But it's not like she lacks friends. She has so many friends. She has friends on a global scale! If her friend has a wedding, she will be there, no matter where in the world that wedding is. If a friend wants to meet up, she will buy a plane ticket and fly there. All our high school reunions, she attended. I only went to the last one and I failed to get a photo with her. 

Aida makes everyone feel important. That's why she was the most popular girl in high school. Everyone loved Aida. Boys and girls. Teachers, too. My family loves her. I don't know anyone who doesn't love her.

She's not a pure ray of light, though. She's great at cutting down people with a look. If she doesn't like you or what you said, you're going to know. Oh boy, will you know! In fact, she's the one who told me to be brave with whatever I think and do. I used to be a people-pleaser (sometimes I still am) and Aida told me again and again I can be nice without putting up with bullshit. I learned not to put up with bullshit eventually but it took a while. 

Everyone thinks I'm this brave woman but I was pretty much a very insecure, anxious, and fearful girl. If you're wondering what transformed me, well, first I should give credit to my ever-growing faith in God's love for me. Then to my eternal gratitude, He sent not-so-divine people my way - my husband Vince when I hit my 20s and, before that, there was Aida.

In high school, no one really liked me. I don't know why. I don't want to know why. Honestly, I'm over it. I had a few friends and that was enough. I did notice that one of my friendships made people look at me differently and that was my friendship with Aida. She was the one who called me best friend first, which startled me. She told everyone I was her best friend and I literally saw people get bewildered, get curious, then become nice to me. When you're 14 years old, that means the world. I realized that they thought very highly of Aida and if she loved me then I must be so much more than the box everyone unfairly put me in. People gave me a chance simply because one person vouched for me.

That's a real gift. That's why I try so very hard to be good and fair to other people and to give people a chance because Aida was good and fair to me. Just one person's kindness opened up my world in vast ways. I can't even measure the profound effect that had on my life. What would I be now if I remained that cowering creature that nobody liked? Her love for me changed me. I learned to be unafraid of my intelligence, to speak out, to be funny, to not give a shit about what people thought, to leave everything behind if it was holding me back, to venture out, to love with all my heart, and to be unapologetic about my life. 

Aida was my biggest influence when I was a kid and she may have been a kid herself but her kindness and courage changed me deeply. I hope she knows that. I don't think I ever told her how she changed my life. So I needed to write this so she knows that I see her and what she's done for me.

Dearest Aida, today, on your birthday, I want to say thank you. For standing up for me, for teaching me to love myself, for flying to my wedding, for buying my book and telling everyone about it, for being proud of me, and for being my friend and staying my friend. My life wouldn't be the same without you. I love you and celebrate you and honor you and bless you, Dang. Happy birthday!


  1. Wow!!! Now I have to read your book. 💕

    1. Please do! It's available on Shopee, Amazon, Kindle, online bookstore worldwide, and from me (if you want it signed)!

    2. definitely! this is Aida =)

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog about Aida. Will look for your book! All the best for you and Aida batchmates!

    1. Thanks! And thanks for looking for my book - you can get it from Shopee, Amazon, Kindle, online bookstore worldwide, and from me (if you want it signed)!

  3. You are lucky to have a friend like Aida. While reading this piece, it felt like those coming-of-age movies where a most unlikely person befriends the lead character and affects his/her life in profound ways. Mine is Wheng, my bestie since high school. 35 years and counting...

    1. Yes! It does sound like a teen movie haha although it wasn't as fun and cool. It was more like 4 years of sadness and the only slivers of light were from my few friends, Aida included. I'm glad you have a BFF, too! God bless Wheng and Aida and all the real friends =)


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