This month Hoa would have celebrated her birthday. She would have joined multiple joyous events this year with her friends. Central among the festivities has been the weddings of some of her dearest friends, who helped her during battle with cancer and shared her life with joy and laughter.

Dominic and Ninh

Dominic and Ninh

In July, Dominic married Ninh in southern California. Both individuals were pivotal caregivers during Hoa’s battle with cancer in Vietnam, serving as bridges for Hoa and her friends abroad. Their compassion and kindness not only connected Hoa to others, it brought Dominic and Ninh together. Friendship and love blossomed out of sadness and loss. Hoa wasn’t able to be at the wedding, but her spirit most certainly was. The ceremony was beautiful, with both the groom and the bride decked out in their finery that Hoa would have approved of. Proud and devoted parents looked on. Excellent food and good cheer were on hand as friends and family witnessed the love and devotion that was evident to all present.

Andrei and Julia

Andrei and Julia

Not to be left out, Andrei married Julia in the majestic northern mountains of New Hampshire this September. The colors were beginning to change, showcasing a mosaic of new beginnings. Andrei was a rock in Hoa’s fight against cancer. In a small traditional church where Julia’s parents and grandparents were married, the couple tied the knot with laughter, a few tears of joy, and style. Friends from afar – including Trinh and myself– joined in (once we found the unmarked church). We enjoyed the tasty organic food, moving speeches, passionate Russian poetry and good music (with enthusiastic dancing). Hoa would have been the first on the dance floor. She wanted to have fun. She also wanted her friends to be happy and loved, and Andrei’s wedding was a testimony for these sentiments.

It is now nearly five years since Hoa has left us, but the connections she made have lived on and taken on new directions. Along with Dominic, Ninh and Andrei, Olivia married as well this summer. Hoa’s friends now have new life partners and are embracing new futures. This October – Hoa’s birthday month- we remember Hoa for her friendship and continue to celebrate her through the cherished celebrations of life.