Friday, April 25, 2008

The Path of Life

It snowed yesterday, between 3 and 4 inches. We endured mini-blizzards most of the day in our mountain valley. This led to a lot of conversations about the weather. Some people wondered if we would see spring eventually. Others ventured that perhaps the one day of sun we savored a couple of weeks ago was spring---and now we're back to winter. ;) Regardless, most were unamused by the white fluffy moisture we received.

Eventually, we'll be grateful for that moisture. When spring finally does arrive and the reservoir is filled---we'll rejoice. Then we'll be appreciative of the storms we endured.

Recently, there have been a plethora of grieving storms in my life, and in the lives of those I know and love. Though we wince when thunderous pain surfaces, I know that eventually, we'll be grateful for the growth that will take place as a result.

I found a poem I wrote a few years ago that reflects this process. May we all endure the continued storms of life, knowing that is part of why we're here.

The Path of Life

As I look upon the path of life, watching others make their way,
I feel a sense of bitterness for the hardships of each day.
Why must we struggle, the path unpaved, briars, thorns around each bend,
Without warning they pierce, discourage—how can we endure until life’s end?

I see the heartache and the sorrow—I’ve felt those emotions deep within,
I watch as others stumble, falling, as one trial ends and others begin.
Why must we suffer, where is the balm, why must there be such pain?
Softly whispers a voice within, "From opposition, one can gain."

"If the road were smooth, the burdens light, and only pleasure left to feel,
How could you ever grow and learn, to become stronger as you heal?
How else can you know and understand another’s cause for grief?
How else but through the Master’s plan can we learn to extend relief?"

"Your prayers are heard, though softly answered—you must feel it within your heart,
Clear your mind from ceaseless worry, allowing the Comforter to impart.
Cling to faith, don’t feel discouraged—arise and allow yourself to smile,
For though the journey may seem overwhelming, it will only be for a short while."

"Make the most of every step, hasten to help when others fall,
And when at last your journey’s ended, you will be lifted above it all."

Cheri J. Crane

Saturday, April 19, 2008


So, while I was still reeling from a tragic event on my side of the family, we were hit with the unexpected death of a loved one from my husband's side this past week. My husband's brother passed away last Saturday night in a tragic fashion that has broken all of our hearts.

This morning I've been thinking about another year when everything seemed to go wrong. It was 1983 and I had been recently diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic and I had to learn interesting things like how to give insulin shots and to how keep my blood sugar level under good control. I had married a wonderful man in 1982 (Kennon Crane) and in 1983 we were expecting our first child. It proved to be a difficult pregnancy, compliments of the diabetes.

We discovered shortly before that son was to be born, that he was a high breech baby. My doctor and his nurses spent an entire afternoon trying to get son # 1 to turn in place. Good times. When they realized this wasn't going to work, there just wasn't enough room for the baby to turn, a c-section was scheduled for the next day.

Our son was born healthy and strong---there had just been one little glitch the day of the c-section, they had been unable to numb things up for me as the surgery took place. At the time, there was no explanation for this---now we suspect the lupus was a major factor. My body still doesn't react normally to some medications. Good times the sequel. ;) My mother later said that when they wheeled me from the recovery room, I looked grey and she wondered if I would survive.

I did survive, and I was excited to be a new mommy. Only one little thing seemed to stand in the way of me going home with my new son a couple of days later: I had developed a series of blood clots in the major vein that led from my left leg to my heart. My doctor's face turned white as my leg turned black while I sat on my hospital bed, waiting for last minute instructions before heading home. When my doctor told me to not move, I had assumed that a spider was on my shoulder. Instead, he kept pointing to my leg which by then was a nice shade of dark purple\black.

The doctor and two nurses who made a sudden appearance from the nurses' station very gently laid me back down on the hospital bed with instructions to not move. It turned out that one of the clots was the size of a golf ball---something that would cause my death if it hit my heart. I was informed that the nurses would be doing everything for me---I was not to move until the clots were anchored in place. Pouting, I didn't take what they said seriously. My baby son was going home without me---my husband and my mother would be taking care of him. I had to stay in the hospital bed for 10 more days and I was not amused. So if the phone rang, I reached across the bed to answer it. If I dropped the TV remote on the floor, I leaned down to pick it up. Then a woman who had also formed blood clots in a similar fashion, died outside of my hospital room as they tried to transfer her for the x-ray adventure I had already endured. That's when I began getting scared. I wondered if I was going to survive, if I would live to raise my young son. It was a scary time and the only Ones who knew what was in my heart were my Father in heaven, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I received a special priesthood blessing that night, one that promised I would live through this adventure. Other things were mentioned that led me to believe that this was an inspired blessing---those two young elders didn't know me---I didn't know them. And yet during that blessing, I was given reassurance about items they knew nothing about. Deciding I was going to survive, I relaxed a bit and did things like make posters that the nurses hung up in the window of my hospital room. They shared messages like "HELP!!! I'M BEING HELD PRISONER!! PLEASE SEND HOT FUDGE SUNDAES!" My doctor was not amused by my sense of humor---each day he stormed inside the room to take down my posters. People were inquiring at the front desk of the hospital. ;) The nurses put up new ones each day---they had joined my rebellion.

I did eventually get released from the hospital. I came home on crutches which helped immensely with the care of my baby. ;) About the time I could walk without the crutches, an event took place in my family that effectively shredded my heart. My father chose to end his life. He had been suffering from a rare liver disease and he wasn't in his right mind when this happened. We recently learned that another health condition may have also played a factor in what took place. I know now that he is okay and I'm excited to see him again someday. But for a long time I felt betrayed. Hadn't I been promised in a priesthood blessing that I didn't need to worry about my dad? That Heavenly Father understood what was going on with him and all would be well? All wasn't well. My father was dead and my heart was broken. I wondered if I would survive. I experienced emotions I was unprepared for as anger, guilt, and heartache battled for attention.

Something interesting came out of all of that. I began writing. I wrote through the pained anger, shredding everything after it was written. I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually tackling my own form of therapy. A relative who went into psychology told me that this is something they encourage people to do when they face a traumatic event in life.

Eventually that writing led to a career as an LDS author. My first book was published in 1994 by Covenant Communications. Following my mother's brave example, I had made lemonade from the lemons that had been handed to me. This is not an easy thing, and sometimes the end result is rather bitter, but I can testify that during painful events, we are not alone. We know that part of why we're here is to be tested, stretched, and to grow. I have found in my life that true growth only comes with a high price. While I would never want to experience items of that nature ever again, I am grateful for the education I gained as a result.

I've been thumbing through my poetry, searching for a poem that will adequately sum up this pain-filled process. To all who read through today's blog, know that we will survive the days ahead. There will be tears, laughter, and intensive pain as we heal, but the end result will be growth, strength, and testimonies that we are never alone during the darkest times of our lives.


Bittersweet the day,
Twilight is the hour
Tremendous joy and sorrow blend
Sunlight & piercing shower.

The ache within reveals pain
Yet smiles surface strong
Hope seems within life’s grasp
Despair makes the day too long.

Celebrating collides
With silent grieving loss
Reaching toward the Sun
Invokes a heavy cost.

Someday the clouds will fade
The storm will cease to rage
And only joy will dwell
On life’s unwritten page.

Until then a Beacon
Lights the darkened day
Heralding hope when all seems lost
Faith will pave the way.

Cheri J. Crane
Sept. 2007

Monday, April 7, 2008


Wasn't Conference awesome this past weekend? The messages of hope and inspiration were faith-building moments, a reminder to continue the journey, no matter how difficult the climb.

In keeping with that theme, I decided to share a poem I wrote a few years after my father's tragic death. A year after I wrote it, I had the "opportunity" to climb a mountain with the Mia Maids I was teaching at the time. It was the stake YM\YW super summer activity that year. Good times. (And yes, it's the mountain behind my home, Baldy---as seen in the picture above. The group of mountains resembles a frog face. =) The mountain on the far left---one of the frog eyes---the one that is "bald" on top is the infamous Baldy Mountain.)

I didn't realize it then, but I was in the process of developing a crippling form of rheumatoid arthritis. During the difficult climb, I nearly gave up. I sat down under a pine tree in the shade, in so much pain, I wasn't sure I could continue. I waved to everyone as they continued on without me. Then as I watched them climb that mountain, the thought came to mind: "Cheri Crane, you have never quit before!" It was true---in true Scots tradition, I had always pushed my way forward.

I stood up, gathered my courage, and began limping toward my goal. By the end of that climb, I was pulling myself up backwards. The only way I could move forward was to sit, and pull myself up the rest of the way with my arms as both legs had ceased to function. But when I reached the top, what a glorious reunion I experienced with those who had gone on before me. And the view from the summit was glorious, something I would have missed if I had persisted in giving up.

There are times in all of our lives when trials take everything we can give and then some. These are indeed the moments that try our souls.

I learned a lot of lessons the day I climbed Baldy Mountain. Never give up. Give the journey everything you've got. We are being cheered on constantly by those who have gone on before. Endure the climb---the view is always worth it. (Incidentally, Alpiniste is French for mountain climber).


Darkness overwhelms
It is too much
I cannot climb
The sheer rock
That slices ‘til I bleed.
There is no strength to face this challenge.

But I have come this far—
To give up now makes a mockery of all that has passed before.

Closing my eyes, I am led by an inner peace that beckons,
Reminding me of a presence that has been there all along.
Slowly, I make my way, clutching at handholds that guide—
The Sun shines bright upon my face as I make the final stretch,
Reaching for what most would deem beyond my grasp.

It is finished.
I have learned to face the wind
The clouds
The rain.
I have conquered the fear that held me back.
At the summit is a beauty that was always there
Beyond my limited sight.
I turn and see another mountain—
But I have learned to climb.
Cheri J. Crane

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Laugh and the World Laughs With You . . .

Cry and your nose runs. =) Okay, so maybe that's not quite how that saying was originally shared, but c'est la vie. In my family we have discovered that we can only be sad for so long. Then we have to drift toward funnyland to survive. Admittedly, sometimes we laugh at silly things, or items that other people don't find funny. We tend to look for the humor. I truly believe in the healing qualities of laughter.

We most often laugh at ourselves or each other. ;) We have plenty of material to draw upon. Moments like the time my mother hit herself in the face with a piece of pumpkin pie, complete with whipped topping. It was Halloween, and while the rest of us were out experiencing the trick-or-treating adventure with our father, she had stayed home to valiantly hand out candy. In between Halloween visitors, she cut herself a nice slice of homemade pumpkin pie. She added a generous helping of whipped cream across the top. Then she sat in a favorite chair to enjoy her treat. Without warning the doorbell rang just as she cut into the pie. She jumped and managed to flip the entire thing into her face. From what we heard later, she scared those kids to death, coming to the door with her face decorated in pumpkin goo. =)

I have also carried on in the great tradition. I've never hit myself in the face with a piece of pie (that takes great talent) but I have done other interesting things that often promote laughter. It's a gift. One example: a "few" years ago I used to play on the high school girls' basketball team. This wasn't a great achievement, since I attended a small high school and anyone who tried out for anything was accepted. =) The first year that I participated, our coach took our entire team into the local hospital for our physicals.

For this to make sense, I must explain that back then, I was extremely healthy and hadn't been to a doctor in years. This was my first experience with having a physical. And I blew it. When the nice nurse handed me this teeny, tiny little cup and said they needed a sample, I was confused. I obediently went inside that little room and pondered what I was supposed to do. Surely they didn't expect one to "go" in something that small. So I used my creativity.

While we sat around later in the hospital waiting room to see if we were all healthy enough to participate in the sport of our choice, I was unaware that I had caused a controversy. Since my father was a pharmacist, and he managed the local small town drugstore, he was on a first name basis with most of the health professionals in the area. He received a panicked phone call from one of his doctor friends. From what I was told later, the conversation went something like this:

"Tom, your daughter is here for her physical."


"We think there's a problem."


"Yes . . . I'm not sure how to say this . . . but does your daughter have a drug problem?"

"NO! Why would you think that?"

"Well, she gave us a sample . . . and well . . . it's highly unusual. We figure it's one of three things. Either she's on drugs and she doesn't want us to know, or she's pregnant, and she doesn't want us to know, or your daughter has a rare kidney disease---her sample was full of water."

I'm sure you can use your imagination to picture how amused my father was over that conversation. Suddenly, I was whisked away into a little room to consult with the doctor and a nurse, and my basketball coach. I can't remember which one asked the question, but they all wanted to know what I had done. Red-faced, I told them. And they started laughing so hard, they nearly fell off their chairs, including my coach, who never ever smiled. That was the first time I ever saw her laugh. I was given another teeny, tiny little cup with lots of instructions this time.

My entire family made fun of me for a long time over my physical failure. I don't even want to imagine the conversation that took place between my father and his doctor friend after my revelation.

A year later, I was still on the basketball team. Again, the entire team went into the local hospital for our physicals. Every girl was handed a teeny, tiny little cup, except for me. The same doctor who had handled this adventure the year before came walking out with a large metal pitcher and he handed it to me, asking if this would suffice. Then everyone laughed, including my coach . . . and me. It was embarrassing, but it was also extremely funny. I was later told that my dad and this doctor had come up with this plan the year before. Paybacks for scaring everyone, I suppose.

My legend didn't die for quite some time. This story was shared during my high school graduation ceremony. A favorite teacher always told hilarious stories about the graduating seniors. (This didn't take long since there were only a handful of us who graduated each year.) The entire audience roared when Mrs. Passey shared my story. You just think people forget your most embarrassing moments in life. ;)

From experiences like that, I have learned that laughter is the best way to deal with most situations. And it does truly help one's heart to heal. So I challenge all of you out there in blogdom to look for the humor. With a little practice, it's not hard to find. ;) And if you're gifted like my family, you'll have lots of material to draw from.