Holly Days: Kiwi + Mango = BFF

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Kiwi + Mango = BFF

Hi Readers! Remember when I went to Michigan & promised you a guest blogger? I had her all lined up & then had nearly no internet access while I was there. Gasp! I know! Oh, noes! Well, she wrote a blog & I thought it was only appropriate to post it...even if it is a month late.

The guest blogger is my very best friend, Maria. I've been trying to get her to start her own blog ever since I started mine way back during French Fries, Gravy & Motherhood. I am hoping you all will give a warm response & help me convince her to join Bloggywood.

I've known Maria since seventh grade & we've been practically connected at the hip since then, but I'll let her tell you the story of Mango & Kiwi.

I have been called many nicknames in my day. Darth, Re-Re, and Mrs. Timberlake to name a few; some a little worse, but this is a PG blog! One of my favorite nicknames was one I shared with my best friend, Holly. I was, "Mango," and she was, "Kiwi." Fruity yes, but I think that was the idea. We were two fruits growing up together during the most important years of our lives. We shared a lot of awesome memories together. As we continue to make new ones with our new lives and families, it is still fun to think back on everything we have been through with each other.

I am rough; and I don't mean that lightly. I have a sewer mouth, I talk too loud, and quite frankly, I think I talk too much. I'm your typical abrasive Italian from New York. I think I learned to talk with my hands before I could say any words!

Enter Holly. Soft, poised, little girl from Oscoda, Michigan whose favorite past times include making pumpkin rolls, strawberry jam, and delicious Rice Krispy treats on weekends. A family full of cops so you know she was a good girl (even though you get those, "rebellious kids of cops," every now and then). Put the two of us together and it's another episode of the Odd Couple.

Holly had qualities that I didn't, and vice versa, so we just worked. Our fruity friendship worked like sisterhood. In fact, forget all this, "friend," talk. Holly is my sister! Our sisterhood started as soon as I asked the shy little girl behind me in class for a pencil. After that, we were inseparable. If I wasn't at her house after school, she was at mine. If we weren't staying up late at my house, we were up all night drooling over NSYNC and Freddie Prinze Jr. at her house. We had notebooks we used to write in to each other and pass back and forth between classes. As if passing notes, telephone calls, and after school time wasn't enough! We went through all the middle school and high school drama together. Stupid boys, silly crushes, the, "ugh I freakin' hate that girl," girls.We did it all. Together.

I wanted to share some of my favorite memories of Holly with you, her Readers, so you can know just a portion of the Holly I have known and grown up with. I thought it appropriate since this is a blog about her life. Ha ha!

Holly is extremely gifted when it comes to crafts. She has the eye, she's got the patience, and she's got the skill. When we were around 13 or so, we decided we were going to strike it rich and start our own kaboodle business. We called it *drum roll* Kangi Kreations (Kangi being a mixture of Kiwi and Mango). We took plain wooden jewelery boxes and transformed them into a handcrafted collage of cutouts from magazines. I must admit, they came out pretty cool, but we only sold one...and I'm pretty sure someone still owes us money for another one.

One Christmas we volunteered to work in Santa's Village at Opportunity Village. Opportunity Village is a non-profit organization that provides vocational training, employment, and social services to people with mental disabilities. My brother, Vincent, who has Down Syndrome, attends this program. Every year they open Santa's Village for Christmas. It's an outdoor wonderland reminiscent of the North Pole, complete with a train, Santa himself, and gorgeous mazes with hundreds of decorated Christmas trees. I love this place. We love this place. I could ramble about it for hours, but I'll get to the story. When we arrived to volunteer for the night, we were given an option of what we wanted to do. We could either work different booths throughout the park, or we could dress up in character. Do I even need to tell you what we chose? We were two teenage girls...costumes, please! Holly picked out a princess outfit while I rummaged through the costumes. That's when I saw it. The coolest freakin costume ever. It was a miniature plush Christmas tree; yellow star on top and black mesh balls for eyes. Perfect. I got nestled inside my costume and stood up. Huge problem. The costume only came down to my knees. Now everyone knows Christmas trees do not have legs, so this simply would not do. The only reasonable answer was to walk around the park squatting the entire time. There was no way I would give this costume up. And so it was settled. The Princess and I walked around the park greeting children and posing for pictures. After the first hour I couldn't feel my thighs. They were a rubbery wobbly mess from squatting and walking the entire night, but I didn't care. It was Christmas! We had a great time that night. We met some really special children who were part of the program at Opportunity Village. It was awesome. The next day I most certainly stayed home from school given the fact I couldn't walk or get out of bed, but it was well worth it.

I could go on and on for weeks and re-tell the stories of our childhood. From every Halloween, dressing up like Britney Spears, to every giggle filled sleepover...and who could forget that time we became for realsies, "blood sisters!!!!" Good grief !! Plain and simple, Holly and I had a friendship that could make anyone jealous. We were yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly, Kiwi and Mango.

I graduated high school a year earlier than I was supposed to. I was going through some really difficult times during my junior year and I had had enough. I doubled my classes and got the hell outta there. In the next few years I just remember being in this really dark place. Anorexia had completely taken over my life, and I ended up losing a lot of close friends. Just when I started to make progress, I slipped even further into my own demise. I alienated everyone. I made new, "friends," who also shared my addictions. It was during this time I made the mistake of alienating the only people that cared about me. Holly being one of them. I regret the time lost in these years. We both went through so much during this time. But I accept full responsibility. It's my fault plain and simple.

Note from Holly: This was not all Maria, folks! I'm here to tell you that this innocent girl from Oscoda, Michigan wasn't sure of the right way to help her bestie. I, too, alienated myself & have wished everyday since that I had tried harder. Maybe then, we wouldn't have lost those precious years together.

God bless MySpace (remember that site?). In 2007, Holly and I rekindled what we had lost...and it felt so good! I had my sister back! The fruits were reunited! It was like we were picked up off the floor, and placed back onto our tree. We had a lot of catching up to do. I already had a son, and Holly was getting ready to get married! I was lucky enough to see Holly walk down the aisle and marry Greg. She looked so beautiful and happy.

When Holly told me she was pregnant with Liam, we were so excited to share in this moment of motherhood together! I rounded up all my baby items that could be passed on to Holly. Manuals, diaper bags, nipple pads...sexy ain't it? Everything I could find that were still good and useful that I had from when Dominic, my oldest son, was a newborn. Week by week we would watch little Liam grow inside her belly. I remember sitting in Holly's living room a few weeks before Liam was born. We had had one of our game nights. Holly was sprawled out on the couch, tired, but still into, "Scene It?". It was a good, peaceful night.

Then, I saw the pictures August 24th, 2008 after logging onto MySpace. I can't even begin to tell you what I felt on that day. I was confused. There was no way this happened. Not to Holly. This wasn't real. No. But it was real. And this did happen. Liam Randall was brought into the world a few days earlier, and God knew he was needed back home with him. Liam went back to Heaven on the same day. I remember seeing the pictures of Liam for the first time, and Holly holding her beautiful, tiny baby boy. Such an angel with the biggest little feet you ever saw. Michael Buble's, "Lost," was playing on her page in the background.

I stared at a blank email for hours. Through hysterical tears I tried to compose a letter to my best friend, but nothing seemed good enough. "Do I call her right now? Will she answer? Is she ok? How can I make this right? Can I make it better?" A thousand questions raced through my mind. My email remained blank for what seemed like hours. I felt guilty. How could anyone understand the amount of pain and grief this woman has to endure? How could I possibly say anything to make her feel better when my son is playing happily in the next room? Will she hate me or look at me differently? Why God? Why did this have to happen? I had a huge range of emotions. The last thing I wanted to do was make her feel worse, and how I wished I could just take all her pain away; make her laugh like we always did, but I felt powerless.

If there's one thing I can say about Holly, it's that she's strong. She may look like a softy, but man is she a tough, strong woman. The next few month's were painful. Holly grieved as a mother, wept as a mother, but she never felt sorry for herself. Holly became for determined to educate herself and others of infant loss, and became and active member in awareness programs and organizations. Liam was not going to be just a memory. Liam is her son. A son who is part of her family and who occasionally reminds you he's still here through the flight of butterflies.

As time went on, we both grew; even though we were both adults, we continued to grow and experience new things. Later on that same year in 2008, my Grandmother's health took an unexpected turn for the worse. We didn't even know she was sick. She went in for stomach pain, was told it was appendicitis, and came out with stage four colon cancer. She was visiting us from New York on one of her, "stay in Vegas for a few months." trips. She never went home. The eight weeks my Grandma was in the hospital drained us all. I was with her when she passed away. There is something about being there with someone as they pass. It's almost like you are standing next to God. I don't know, I'm probably doing a horrible job explaining it. I held her as she took her last breath. I was a wreck. Besides my best friends and of course, Holly, there was one good friend of mine who dropped everything to be by my side. In fact, he left his family after Christmas in California to come be with me. That man was Gabriel. That's when, "it," started.

Gabe and I were good friends, but never took it any further than that. We met a few years back when I worked for US Airways, and he was the Air Marshall on my flight. After my Grandma passed away, I truly saw what a selfless man he was. And so it began. Things with Gabe moved fast, but it seemed right on schedule. I mean, we had already known each other for years. We moved in together and it was the three of us. Gabe, me...and Dominic. On April 28, 2009, my love proposed to me in front of the boarding gate we first met at three years ago. Gate B15. It was a beautiful day, and an amazing proposal. We got pregnant right away. At first, we had very mixed emotions about the pregnancy. I was afraid people would talk about me, especially since I already had a son from a previous relationship and was never married. Holly, who was also pregnant with number two (Yay!), helped me feel better about the whole thing. She reassured me that everything was going to be fine.

And fine it was! After all, BFFs pregnant together?!?! That's pretty amazing. Holly found out she was expecting another boy, and I was having a girl! Before we even saw our children's faces, we were planning their wedding. Are arranged marriages allowed in the US? Our due dates were originally a few days apart, but kept changing due to Holly's son growing like a mutant.

On November 3, 2009, Collin Randall Matteo was born. What a chunker! A whopping nine pounds. Such a little ham! My due date was November 20th, so I still had a way to go. Or so I thought. On November 10th, 2009, Isabella Maria decided she had enough, and forced her way out of Mama. A little squirt at five pounds twelve ounces. Holly and I were both elated to have children just a week apart. It was like a match made in Heaven!

Now, Collin and Isabella are ten months old. It seems like just yesterday they were born. It's amazing to watch them together. Sometimes I look at them and see Holly and I playing together. Not only did we get to experience our childhood together, but now we get to raise children together! And they are only a week apart! And of course, they are getting married when they are older. Mama knows best, or in this case, Mamas.

The one thing I can say to all of you about Holly, is that I am incredibly proud of the woman she has become. She is the epitome of what a mother should be. She's loving, kind, and strong. I am honored to call her my best friend. I am blessed to have her in my life. I love her to pieces and I couldn't ask for a better sister. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us and our new families. I love you Kiwi. As for you Readers, you all can learn so much from this woman. I recommend you keep reading this blog. She has so much to offer.


  1. I LOVE you Kiwi!! <3 <3 Happy birthday!!!

  2. @Maria - I've come up with a name fo ryour blog! Frijoles y Canollis!

  3. I read this this morning and have been thinking of it all day. It's a wonderful blog, Maria. It's so neat to see Holly in a different way. And, it makes me miss my BFF! How lucky you too are still in the same city! (or country for that matter....)

  4. oh, and the Grandma part... I totally lost it. I was there when my Grandpa passed away.