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Friends

The following post was written on my facebook page following my uncle Kevin’s shooting on June 11, 2018. Kevin Valencia, a police officer, was 27 years old when he was shot in the head after responding to a domestic violence call where 4 young children were held and murdered. He is my hero and I’d like to keep these on my blog as a tribute to him.

As of February 9th, 2019, Kevin is still in a coma. Please pray.

Last month, right after arriving in Miami following my uncle Kevin Valencia’s accident (and our midnight rush up to Orlando), I raided my mother’s stash of childhood pictures and separated all the ones with Kevin. There were hundreds of pictures, dating back from the time he was a newborn, but still, I felt like some were missing…

My mom admitted she had gifted a lot to Kevin after his wedding to Meghan and hadn’t made copies, so begrudgingly I swore that I’d return her originals after my husband, Andres made copies. Then, I’d keep the copies. 

Well, at this point (and over a month later), I’m still vaguely irritated with the fact that I don’t have ALL the photos, but satisfied with my hefty haul. So, last night, I went to my parents’ house and went about cleaning out another area I had long since promised—my old bedroom.
And in the messy closet, I find a small blue tub. The only tub in the entire closet actually, and one I had seen many times, but assumed contained nothing of value.

I open the tub and in it are 3 girly photo albums each marked with one word: “friends.”
As I flip open the first album, what do I come to find? One of my favorite photos of Kevin.
So I continue flipping, and more and more photos of Kevin emerge. At least a hundred through all three albums and photos of our friends, Meghan ValenciaJohn ReedKelsey Coggins and too many more to name. My best friends and his best friends all together in photo albums I assembled in my youth.

So when people ask how my uncle came to marry my best friend, Meghan. 
The answer is simple: They were both my best friends. And still are.❤️

Moon Face

What I look like on Prednisone. HAHA!
Moon face’ is a common side effect of a medication called Prednisone- a very effective corticosteroid anti-inflammitory drug commonly used by people with breathing disorders, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and allergic disorders. It is characterized by a swollen, round, often puffy-looking appearance in the cheeks of those who use it, resulting in the name.


Recently my doctor started me back on Prednisone. Half of me was thinking, “Oh great, here we go again and just in time for the holidays too…” but the truth is it does make me feel significantly better. I mean, I know in my head its worth feeling better, but the fact that I’ve looked like a chipmunk in the all the holiday pictures for the last 3 years does bother me a little. 
Often, people will ask me, “What happened to your face?” or “Did you know that your face is really swollen?” and I simply shrug and respond with “Yeahhh I’m aware, it’s the medication.” 
I mean, its hard! Especially when you know its going to be for an extended period of time. You feel self-conscious! It’s like all eyes are on you and you know that they know that something is off about your face, but they don’t know why. Although Arthritis can be classified as an invisible illness there definitely are times when it is very clearly visible and its easy to get depressed about it. 
You don’t feel like yourself and you just want to hide and not go to any of the Christmas dinners or New Year’s parties. I know I’ve felt like that a few times. 
I’ve felt ugly, and I didn’t want to go out or get my picture taken, but after hiding out alone in my room, I realized that that’s no way to live! I can’t waste Christmas time with my family just because I look a little funny. And if someone asks, I just explain it to them and make a joke about how I look like I have acorns stuffed in my cheeks or I ate one too many holiday-themed cookies

It’s ok to to be upset and I’m not saying you have to be happy about it, but sometimes we gotta learn to not take ourselves too seriously or let little things get in the way of us living our lives.
We just gotta say to ourselves, “This too shall pass and I am the cutest chipmunk in existence!” 🙂
That’s one thing that this illness has taught me over and over again…

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
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