Sunday, May 14, 2017

#MaryBarriero BFF

I don't even know how I got this point.  To where I'm sitting next to the bedside of my very best friend and she's dying.  I'm literally watching her take some of her last breaths.  "How?"  I kept asking myself that question.

 Nine years earlier, I was searching for Gimme.  She had wandered over to the neighbor's house to play with the little girl living there.  They very quickly became friends and spent hours playing together.  That's when Ironmom came and introduced herself to me.  I had no doubt we'd be friends.

We put in a lot of miles walking to and from each other's homes.  Sometimes I needed to borrow a couple of eggs, sometimes I just needed adult conversation.  Ironmom came through on all occasions.

I thought that when I moved away to North Idaho, it was a painful goodbye.  But that pain doesn't compare to the heartache of saying "See you later!" for the last time.

When I returned to the neighborhood almost 3 years later, to the same best friend, we picked up right where we left off.  We just added more kids to the mix.  Tostito chips with a hint of lime dipped in salsa became the staple of our visits.  I washed mine down with Diet Coke, Ironmom preferred "pure" Pepsi.

Not long after we settled back into our routine, Friend moved in across the street.  She was pregnant and anti-social.  Unfortunately, being anti-social wasn't an option.  I forced my way in (hey.  I was done having babies, but I still needed to squish on one...I needed to get my foot in the door!!), and as luck would have it, Friend easily meshed into the friendship.  10 kids between the 3 of us (half of them being my own), meant that most days were spent at home.  When I say home, I just mean at one of our three houses.  Hours of visiting, laughing, crying, and planning were spent at home with each other.

The grilling commenced (so much meat has been consumed in the last nine years, and Brazil has grilled it all.)  A good "MEAT"ing has been the springboard of closer friendships.  To the trio was added Barbie and most recently Beyonce.

In the past few years, we've been involved in Grinch Dinners, 12 days of Christmas, Spring Break staycations, Kickoff to Summer parties, book club for the kids, night games for adults, outdoor movies, the Amazing Race, late nights, Mav Runs, and actual running--neighborhood 5k, 10k, and 1/2 Marathon.  Later we would organize the Miles for Mary fundraiser.

Intertwined with all the fun, there have been heavier loads my friends have helped me bear.  Bogey's medical condition, for instance.  Open heart surgery, several cleft surgeries, trips to Stanford.  That one time Gimme had to have an appendectomy at the same time I was in California with Bogey as he was recovering from one of his palate surgeries.  The texts and the phone calls from this squad, helped me feel at ease during that stressful time.  There was also my tonsillectomy.  I was sure I wouldn't make it--not only because of the pain--but also because I couldn't drink my Diet Coke!! Where were my friends during that nasty time?  Yeah.  With me.  We joke about being BFF's, but our friendship somehow goes deeper than just a "bestie".  We'll be friends forever.

I won't ever forget the chill that ran through my body when Ironmom came to my house to tell me that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.   It was in February 2016.  I knew then, that I was going to have to bolster my faith.  I had no idea how much that faith would be tried as I watched Ironmom endure radiation and chemotherapy.  It seemed that on her darkest days, when we talked, she was the one building me up, and restoring my faith.  Not once did she allow her faith to waiver.  She knew her life was in the Lord's hands, that His will would be done and she would accept it.

These are our BFF rings...Crown-Barbie, Unicorn-Friend, Heart-Me, Rainbow-Ironmom, Castle-Beyonce.  (We may or may not have hidden the rainbow in a casket...)

I wanted her to be healed.  I prayed for her to be ok.  I prayed that she would not have to suffer.  I wanted Ironmom to be the happy Ironmom I knew.  I didn't want her to be frail, sick, and weak.

In November of 2016, Ironmom's doctors discovered that cancer had spread to her brain.  They didn't think she'd live much longer.  One day, as Friend and I sat sobbing with her, she said, "You two have been my angels for so long, now I finally get to be yours." (She referred to us as her "Elle's Angels" because both of our names end in --elle.  Clever, right?)

 I had a feeling then, that I needed to be prepared for what was coming.  I refused to acknowledge that feeling.  We're living in the 21st century!  There's incredible medicine to heal.  Miracles happen. 

When cancer spread into her back and spine, doctors knew there was nothing else they could do.  Ironmom was put under the care of Hospice.  During the few days she was in their care, Friend and I spent lots of time cramming more memories and inspiration from Ironmom into our souls.  We got to see her laugh despite the pain she was feeling.  We learned more about her as she told us stories of her youth (that we wrote down in a book), and as she reverently explained the history of each piece of jewelry she owned.  She shared with us her testimony of life after death, as well as her excitement to reunite with her father, who passed away when she was in her youth.

The last time I spoke with Ironmom, we were joking about her medicine spreadsheets.  She teased me about my color coding and organization of the pages.  She did acknowledge, however,  that she didn't expect anything less from me.  We laughed.  One last time.

I guess in a roundabout way, that's how I got here.  That how I got to be sitting next to her bed as she was peacefully slipping into heaven.  

I echo my testimony to hers.  I know this life is not what we live for.  I absolutely know, without a doubt, Ironmom is with her earthly father.  I know that because she was sealed in the temple to her sweet husband, Brazil, they are eternally married.  I know Tiny Dancer and Super M will see their mother again.  She will be involved in their lives.  They may not see her, but she will be there!  I'm so thankful for this knowledge.  I don't know how I would ever get through these long days without my testimony. 

At the viewing...Double Bogey was so sad.  He LOVED Ironmom because she always had a "sweet" (treat) waiting for him.

Beyonce came and picked out shirts with Ironmom to put into a t-shirt quilt for the kids.

at the viewing, a huge swarm of pink came through the line.  It was Tiny Dancer's dance team...I was moved to tears.  What wonderful support.

Pall Bearers, and Honorary Pall Bearers

Ironmom's siblings, mom, and husband.  I am grateful for them.  I love them.  I am so thankful that though all of this, I got to know these people.  I consider them family.   

Ironmom allowed her work circle to collide with her Hammerstone circle, and I'm glad I get to call these people my friends.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


By now, it shouldn't shock anyone when I say, we're a basketball-loving family.  Besides Christmas, it's the only season I decorate for (and really, when I say decorate, I mean, my door hanging, and a few things inside...).  

To be honest, though, I can't help my basketball obsession.  I was born that way.  It's actually in my DNA.  I can prove it because we took an evening and drove to Shelley to watch two of my nephews play against each other in a basketball tournament.  See?  My siblings have the same thing.  I'm not sure they decorate for March Madness and the basketball season, but if they weren't running around to basketball games every day, they probably would.

The cheering section was rowdy.  It was so fun though because everyone around us seemed to be very confused as to why we were cheering for both teams!

To really deepen our love for the sport, Ace and I got Mulligan tickets to March Madness in Salt Lake City for his birthday.  It was a selfish gift, we realize that.  However, we feel no shame in our desire to cash in on the gift that gave to all three of us!  

We had the best time watching Gonzaga vs. South Dakota State and Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt.  Both games were exciting!

On the way home, Mulligan couldn't stop talking about his picks on his bracket.  I coach his basketball team, and it is a requirement that every player on the team and their parents (sibling participation is also strongly encouraged) fill out a bracket and turn it in with a prize ($5 or less) for the Trophy Bucket.

Mulligan actually held onto the lead throughout the whole tournament up until the final 4.  He then handed the lead to his little sister.  Unfortunately, both kids picked the wrong winner!!  However, Birdie has never paid such close attention to a basketball game--and she's played for 3 seasons!!  ;)

Friends and neighbors came to our house for the big final game and the trophy presentation at the conclusion. With the NC Tarheels coming out with the win, BB walked away with the loot.  Lucky guy.  He gets to display the trophy for all to see for a WHOLE YEAR!!

Since Mulligan was already thinking basketball, it wasn't hard to come up with a science project for school.  Don't worry.  He got a blue ribbon...that's good...I think.

I don't know what we're going to do now that the only basketball we have to watch is the NBA.  It's hard to watch our beloved OKC Thunder struggle, while that greedy, self-interested, #35 in the blue and yellow coasts his way into the play-offs.  (I could do a whole long post about how I feel about the whole situation, but I'll save it for another day, or I'll just get over it...whichever comes first.)

Let's just hope the local favorite, the #UtahJazz pull through to represent the west.  At least that would give us some quality ball to watch through June...