August 21, 2016. A date that I will never forget and that will always remain special to me. Now, you are probably wondering why this seemingly unimportant date is so memorable for me, and thinking that surely some incredibly momentous event must have taken place. Well, you are right, because this date, this very significant date, marks the day that I saw the one and only Céline Dion live in concert.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Céline, as well as how much I have loved her for pretty much my entire life. I barely know a time when she was not my favorite singer (let’s just put it this way— when I was young and everyone loved the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber, I loved Céline.) I even remember that when I got my first iPod in fifth grade, although it had hundreds of songs on it, the only ones I would listen to were the twelve Céline songs that I had downloaded on repeat. Or, my freshman year of high school, when I met my best friend and one of the first questions I asked her was if she liked Céline, because, obviously, if she had said no, I just knew our friendship would not work out. Clearly, not much changed throughout the years except for the fact that now I know many, many more songs than those first twelve that I started out with.

Today, I am just as much of a dedicated fan as have always been, if not, more. Having loved Céline forever, I now admire her not just as a singer, but as a person. In all her television appearances, interviews, concerts and other events she takes part in (all of which I follow and watch religiously), she always seems so gracious and kind, thankful and humble, and open and honest, which are traits that are hard to find in many other celebrities of her stature. Céline has worked beyond hard for everything she has achieved in her career and in her life, and it is apparent that she never takes anything for granted. She is a genuinely good person who wholeheartedly cares and is thankful for those around her who have helped her to get where she is today, from her family and friends, to her band and crew, writers and producers, and fans, just to name a few. Even with the events that have occurred in her life this past year, including losing her husband and longtime manager René Angélil, and her brother, Daniel Dion, to cancer just two days apart, she remains true to the person she is, and never seems to falter in her strength or commitment. I believe that Céline truly exemplifies the type of role model that we need more in the world of today, and I love being one among of her millions of fans.

All of this being said, when I was opening my presents last Christmas Eve, and opened the tickets to her concert, I could hardly believe it— I would be seeing Céline live in Québec City! After counting down the 241 days between December 24th and August 21st, taking a twelve hour train ride from New York to Montréal, followed by a three hour car ride to Québec City, the concert finally arrived, and I can honestly say that I do not know any other amount of time that was worth the wait as much as this matter of time was.

From the moment the show began, and Céline stepped out in one of her always fabulous outfits (this time it was a black Nicolas Jebran three-piece ensemble), I felt like I was in a dream, like it could not be real that I was watching her perform live in front of me. Although she sang and spoke mostly in French, it did not make a difference to me at all. I still knew every song, as many of my favorite songs of her’s are her French songs, and, even though I do not usually know exactly what they mean, it never matters —like Céline always says, music is a universal language.

As for her performance, she was nothing short of stellar in every song she sang, from her English hits such as “Because You Loved Me” and “My Heart Will Go On,” to her French hits like “Pour que tu m’aimes encore” and “S’il suffisait d’aimer,” to covers of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” (which she recently recorded), not to mention two songs from her new album Encore un soir, “À la plus haute branche” and “Ordinaire,” which was just released on August 26. But, really, would you expect anything less from one of the greatest singers of all time, especially Céline?

Throughout the whole night, however, what stood out most was how her never-ending energy radiated to the audience, and how the audience’s adoring energy radiated right back to her. The connection she has with her fans is truly one of a kind, which becomes obvious from the minute-long standing ovation Céline receives when she first takes the stage, and when the show is over, in addition to the times when, during any song, she would hold out the microphone and let the audience sing with her and for her, and they would never miss a word. This connection she has with her fans most definitely stems from how candid she is about everything that goes on in her life— good and bad. Everything that Céline goes through, her fans go through with her, making for a very unique situation.

The truth is I could never, ever, say enough good things about Céline. She and her music have been with me my whole life, and I would not want it any other way. There is no other singer that I would rather stay up late to watch on television (even if it means staying up until two or three o’clock in the morning if it is a livestream from Las Vegas), or excitedly wait up until midnight to download her new album as soon as it comes out, or get up at two-thirty in the morning to drive to the city and stand outside and wait for five hours to see her perform on Today, or enter every contest I can to possibly win concert tickets or to even meet her— really this list could go on, but I will just end it here because I think you get the point.

Ultimately, for me, seeing Céline live in Québec City was more than just a concert. It got me a little bit closer to a dream. The next step in my dream will definitely be seeing her perform in Las Vegas at some point, and, maybe one day, I will be lucky enough to have the chance to meet her. I mean, it is just like my tagline says, “Working on becoming BFFs with Céline Dion.” Who knows, anything can happen, so stay tuned.