Home Sweet Home

Last Saturday, as the wheels of the aircraft lifted off the tarmac at Baltimore Washington International Airport, I smiled knowing that a difficult nine-week chapter of my life was concluding. During my six-hour cross-country flight home, I found comfort knowing that I was headed toward brighter days, literally and symbolically. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions as I reflected on the weeks of uncertainty during my stay in Pennsylvania that included two back surgeries, three hospital admissions, and very special time with family- along with the bitter cold ‘polar vortex’ weather. I peered out the plane’s window with a hopeful spirit as it started its descend to Sacramento International Airport.

I stepped on the escalator towards baggage claim and scanned the airport with great excitement. It had been nine weeks since I last saw my husband, Noah. Half way down the escalator, our eyes locked. The second half of the ride seemed to be in slow motion as I got closer to my life co-pilot. Tears streamed down both of our cheeks as we embraced one another. Although time and distance may be hard to comprehend, our hearts felt the impact of both.

It amazes me how time and distance can aide in mentally putting things in the past. How over time, the intensity and nitty-gritty of once large-life events can fade from our thoughts. In Pennsylvania, every day was a challenge and focus to improve and recover well enough to tackle the cross-country flight home to continue to recuperate from my surgeries. When I was back in my husband’s arms and felt the healing rays of the CA sun and walked into our home, I felt a sense of relief, renewed hope and knew I was on to a new and brighter chapter in my life.

When taking a step back and looking at the timeline of our lives, it seems easy to compartmentalize the past into different stages, phases and events. Some compartments we would love to relive, others we relish at just the thought of that time in our lives, many we learn from, then there are those memories we wouldn’t wish for anyone to endure. While this compartment of the past twelve months in my life will not be one that I will want to relive, it is one that I am learning from, daily.

Valen walking

I am learning the importance of making adjustments in life in order to continue to do what we love. Noah and I love traveling, exploring and the outdoors. Although we have not been able to do that in the past twelve months due to my back issues, we still strive to find ways to accomplish this even though it is on a much smaller scale. Right now I am not supposed to sit, stand or walk for long periods of time. This week Noah and I went to a local place that had a flat path for us to walk on, since I am not to walk on a hilly or rocky surface. My dad was with us as he flew back home with me so I would not have to travel alone. While the three of us took a leisurely stroll together, I made sure to count my blessings. I was out of the hospital, walking, breathing fresh air, and soaking in the sun with the two most important men in my life.


As Noah and I walked side-by-side on the path, he reached for my hand and told me to hold my other arm out, close my eyes and take a deep breath and he did the same. I took several cleansing deep breaths with Noah and smiled, knowing that whatever adjustments I have to make in life, I am lucky for all of the support that I have and to not be alone as I continue forward on this journey.

“An optimist is one who makes the best of it when he gets the worst of it.”

Have you had to make any adjustments in your life to continue to do what you love?


  1. Marsha Byers Etnier

    Valen, your story brought tears to my eyes as I read it out loud to my hubby! We have been praying for all of you and I was waiting for the day that I could hear that you and Noah were reunited!!! I’m so happy for you, your parents and Noah. As I too am a bearer of PKD I understand that our loved ones hurt when they see us hurting and they stay right in the ring with us. You and your precious family are quite strong and I am so thankful that our lives have crossed. We have never met in person, but I feel so very close to all of you and will continue to hold all of you close in my heart and always in my prayers. Blessings, strength, love and prayers are being sent from my heart to yours. xoxoxoxox <3 Marsha

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Marsha,
      Thank you so much for your continued support. I am very thankful for Noah, my family and wonderful friends like you. Your prayers and well wishes have helped me greatly during this recent health hiccup. Thanks for everything! xo

  2. Carolyn Morris

    Valen, I am so thankful that you are recovering and able to return home. You have been on the top of my “worry list” and of course my prayer list. The mother in me creates both lists. Take care and get well quickly. Carolyn

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Carolyn,
      You are so sweet and such a treasured friend. Thank you for all of your love and support over the years. I look forward to the day that our paths cross again. <3 xo

  3. Brianne Mundy

    Oh Valen, I am soooo glad you’re finally home! I can’t imagine all the pain you endured and the frustration you must have been feeling these past several months, not to mention being separated from Noah for so long! Love is a great healer – and you’re getting TONS of it sent your way. Take care and get well soon!! XOXO Brianne 🙂

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Brianne,
      It feels so good to be back on the west coast. 🙂 The past several months have been unique, but the support and love from dear friends like yourself have kept me fighting. Thank you for your support and friendship. It means a whole bunch to me! 🙂 xo

  4. Jackie

    I’m so so so so glad you’re home and doing so well!

    • Valen Keefer

      Dearest Jackie,
      Thank you so so so so much my sweet friend. 🙂 I am delighted to be home.


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