When I first met Monique, I was going through a very hard time in my life. I had just started a new school after having my daughter Alicia. I didn't know anybody, and during my pregnancy the one close friend I had was my mother.

I felt so different from everybody and wasn't even thinking about normal teenage friendships; I was just happy to be able to finish my schooling. My life was very busy, going to school, coming home and taking care of an infant, and also, I had just recently started living with my daughter's father, which was taking a lot of adjusting.

Monique was in a couple of my classes and we started talking. Monique never judged me because of my differences. In fact, she made me feel special because of it. We came to be good friends and she introduced me to her friends, and slowly I started feeling like a normal teenager again.

Very early in our friendship, something happened that just completely turned my life upside down: my baby's father walked out on us. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with and if it wasn't for Monique and the new friends I had met through her, I don't know how I would have made it through. I feel Monique helped me realize that I am my own person and that I didn't need anybody to feel good about myself.

As time went on, I started going out with friends, having fun and just hanging out. I moved on with my life and became more independent. It was a completely new beginning for me. I became a different person, the person I am today.

I feel that these were the happiest times of my life and I couldn't have done it without the support of a friend like Monique. My biggest regret is that I never got to tell her all this. I never got to tell her how much an effect she had on my life and still does. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today if I had never met her. It seems strange how one person could have such and impact on my life. And losing that person is the greatest loss to me. It hurts so bad sometimes because I wish more than anything that I could tell her what she meant to me.

- Ayesha Shivji

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