Happy Birthday to you! I can't believe yet another year has passed, and I'm so grateful we've spent it together.
We've been through a lot of loss these past couple of years, and I am thankful that we've been going through it together.
You are one of my deepest loves.
You are not only my friend. You are my sister.
You are not only Equis' godmother. You are his titi.
As in all relationships, we've had our ups and downs, but the downs have only made us stronger.
It's hard to believe we were just fifteen the other day holding hands as we walked to the train after school.
I look back on our decade together and remember many things. Here are just some of those memories:
I remember countless visits to Saint's Alp Teahouse and the tears and laughter we've shared there over ceramic cups of, say, hot almond bubble tea.
I remember the snow falling from our backpacks as we ordered our daily frappuccinos after school.
I remember your sweet smile as you held my newborn baby in your arms and said, "Congratulations, Mommy." You being there for me meant the world to me, especially since you were thoughtful enough to bring me a delicious taro bubble tea after I'd delivered a baby!
I remember you fighting for me when Sephora staff locked us in their store, demanding that I give up the acne medication they swore I stole. You said, "My father faces this kind of discrimination because of the color of his skin. Is that why you're targeting us? She told you she didn't steal it so let us out."
I remember your consistent advice: "If he doesn't enrich your life, he's not the one for you."
I remember how much I missed you when we were disconnected in college. I kept a picture of us dressed up for the Lilac Ball on my dorm room desk every year and told everyone who asked, "That's my best friend."
I remember playing in the sprinklers with Equis and Kelsey two hot summers ago at the East River Park. I will forever cherish that memory.
I remember us trembling every time we heard planes pass overhead after September 11th. I was glad you were next to me.
I remember the irony of the moment when a clock landed on the bridge of my nose in the senior lounge after your daily prayer, "Watch your head."
I remember visiting you at Yale for my birthday. We had so much fun dancing and walking about New Haven. I'll always remember you gave me The Turkish Lover by Esmeralda Santiago that year.
I remember buying the New York Times just for your essay, "Remembering When Brooklyn Was Mine," and the sense of pride I felt to say, "That's my best friend!"
I remember traipsing through the Bronx Botanical Garden and enjoying all the beautiful photos you took.
I remember the day we reconnected after college with joy. We watched a beautiful rainbow appear over the South Street Seaport and saw a shooting star that same night at Battery Park. We knew our meeting up again was meant to be, and we were filled with a sense of the miraculous.
Most of all I remember our special love for one another that only best friends can have.
I love your spirit of bravery, social justice, kindness and intelligence. I love you just as you are. You are beautiful inside and out, and I thank God for placing you in such an important role in my life.
I don't know what I'd do without you, mi hermana, my besty. Thank you for being my family.
Happy Happy Birthday, best friend of mine!
Con mucho amor y besos,
Xiomara A. Maldonado