Dear Sarah…

I debated whether or not I should publish this on my blog. Then, it came to my mind that writing is my passion. It’s something I love to do and Sarah knew it and loved that I wrote too. So, I knew there was no better way for me to share my love for my beautiful little sister.

Dear Sarah,

Your twitter bio once said, “She wants to change the world and you know what? She just might do it.”

Well, my love, you did it.

Over 10,500 followers, thousands of shirts sold, numerous hearts turned purple and now, many tears fall.

The Crane Crew before Sarah started chemo and I left for school.

The Crane Crew before Sarah started chemo and I left for school.

The day I left for school in August, I felt so guilty. I didn’t know how I was going to not only leave you, but mom, dad, Ally and Jenna. I thought I was being selfish and that maybe you’d be angry at me because I wasn’t there to help you all the time. I was wrong & you proved that to me. I know you held on for me to drive home and we all be together.

You didn’t have to, but you did.

I won’t forget looking into your beautiful brown eyes one last time. Never ever.

Sarah, do you know how much you accomplished in your fifteen years of life? I feel sorry for people who didn’t know the healthy you, just the sick one. Your spirit was still the same, but they only got a glimpse of you.

The Sarah whose smile could light up a whole room in a second.

The Sarah who could make anyone laugh.

Seriously though, all I can think about is how you would randomly break out in dance moves or random facts.

The Sarah whose positive outlook helped renew another’s attitude.

You simply loved life and loved sharing your life with others.

Sarah and one of her best friends over Spring Break 2013.

Sarah and one of her best friends over Spring Break 2013.

I know, I know, if you were here right now you’d be frustrated and annoyed that I was getting so upset.

But I keep thinking about what we didn’t get the chance to do.

I didn’t get the chance to watch you get all dressed up for your proms like you did for mine. You helped me numerous times with my nails and hair…I wish I could do yours.

Me, Sarah & Ally for Prom 2013

Me, Sarah & Ally for Prom 2013

I don’t get the chance to have you in my wedding or have you there when I have my first baby. I know you will be…I  wish I could see your face or hear the jokes I’m sure you would tell.

And all I can think about is how as a big sister, I’m supposed to protect you. I’m supposed to stop the bully from hurting you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop it this time. This nasty, nasty bully.

But don’t worry, Sarah, I’m not full of complete sadness because I know you’re there thinking, “Seriously guys, don’t worry about me.”

I’m not worried at all. You’re in the greatest place possible and I can’t even imagine how beautiful it is. It became even more perfect when you arrived.

Isaiah 40:29-31 keeps comforting me:

“He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord
 will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I can see you running again. Seriously, like miles and miles. I can visualize you playing ball with Reno again and it makes me smile.

I can also look back on the memories we shared. I remember you being born and thinking, “Sweet! I don’t have just one new baby sister, but TWO!” Oh goodness, you were so tiny. While mom was probably panicking at the thought of dealing with four very young girls, I was rejoicing in the fact that I now had three sisters to call my best friends.

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I remember Ally and I strapping you and Jenna to the toy box lid and pushing you down the stairs as if you were sledding. I knew you would always crash into the wall, but it was so fun. I remember your gymnastic days and how we would always go to Buffalo Wild Wings before or after and play trivia.

I remember the numerous summer days spent by the pool and the cold, winter days as we would try to snowboard down the hill with our sleds.

You were so fearless.

Ugh and how I remember the days of how dirty you were. Seriously, you would play in the dirt and attempt to eat the rocks. Everyone called you pigpen, like the one from Charlie Brown.

Then somehow, you became a beautiful young lady. You were perfect.

And so yes, I am happy because you are healed and you are not suffering.

But gosh, as a human I am selfish and therefore I am upset because you can’t be healed with us.

I  wish I could hear you laugh again.

I know you’ll always be with me. So, as you requested I will finish these finals strong. Especially since I know you will be looking right over my shoulder. I won’t let you down.

I just miss you so much. And I guess I’m confused because if God wanted to use you so bad as an example, why couldn’t he just let you live a little longer to teach others? I’ll find out the answer some day.

No matter what, we will always be the fabulous four Crane girls. We will always be dad’s “crackers.”  There will ALWAYS  be six of us in the Crane Crew.

& now, Sarah, you are my angel.

I love you so much.

I can’t wait to see you again, Sloppy Jo.

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.

Thursday brings thankfulness

Although Thanksgiving is Thursday, I begin my Thanksgiving Break in two days (FINALLY) and feel it is most appropriate to write about what I am thankful for now.

Yeah yeah, it’s cheesy & unoriginal, but when I wake up every morning and go to bed every night I express to God all the things I am thankful for, including his grace and undying love for us . It was the other day when I realized that maybe some of the people I appreciate don’t even know it. So, I wanted to write about it. Just a few, because there is a lot I could write about.

1.)   Education

For starters, I am thankful that I graduated from high school and was accepted into several universities, but I am most thankful for the decision to come to the University of Indianapolis. I am coming to the finish line for my first semester of college and can honestly say I have enjoyed it so much.

The people, the classes & the opportunities that have already been presented to me make it a wonderful experience. I am currently the online editor for our school newspaper, The Reflector and enjoy it. Where else would I have had the chance to become an editor as a freshman? The workload my schedule has for me can be overwhelming at times, but I would not want me to be anywhere else. GO HOUNDS.

2.)   Friends

It’s said that friends are the family you choose and I couldn’t agree more. This is a shout out to all of you who have helped me create great memories with sleepovers, dinner and movie nights and pool days. It’s a shout out to all of you have made me laugh until I’ve cried or have sit there and let me have a good cry. It’s a shout out to those I have just met in these past few months

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and those I have loved for years.

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You all mean so much to me and I thank you for always being here.

3.)   Mashed Potatoes

I’m not kidding, I really am thankful for this delicious food. I could probably eat them everyday and not get sick of it. I know they are not the best thing I could eat and they are definitely my guilty pleasure. My mom always knew it would make my day when I would come home from practice and she was making dinner and would mention that one of the sides would be those lovely potatoes mashed.

This would also be a time where I should mention the greatest combination ever: grilled cheese and tomato soup. Thank you for being my comfort food.

4.)   Running

On a serious note, I am thankful for being able to wake up this morning and the ability to be in good enough health to run.

As many of you know, I ran cross country and track through my four years of high school and continue to run (for fun) now. It is a time for me to not only be physically active, but to be free. Free of stress and sadness. With each stride, I pound out my fears, anger and intake endorphins. I’ve played with the idea of running track here at school, but for now I’ll stick to the 5ks in the area and the sidewalk courses I’ve made up around campus. Either way, I finish with a sense of satisfaction. So thank you, running, for being my cheap therapy and a friend.

5.)   Finally, I am thankful for my family, not just immediate but my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…I think you’ve got the idea. I hope you all know how much I love you and appreciate your never ending support and love.

I'll add Tommy to my "family" category because he basically is. He's my boyfriend and best friend. He makes me laugh and is my shoulder to cry on. I am thankful for his love every day.

I’ll add Tommy to my “family” category because he basically is. He’s my boyfriend and best friend. He makes me laugh and is my shoulder to cry on. I am thankful for his love every day.

As for my mom, dad and sisters, well I don’t think any blog post could ever explain how much you mean to me. You’ve cheered for me in anything I’ve attempted and have always supported me in the decisions I made.

Being ourselves at my commencement. June 2013

Being ourselves at my commencement. June 2013

Thank you mom and dad for being a great example of what love should be and providing us with a life greater than we deserved.

I’m thankful for our countless road trips where we would all jam to songs, try to find all 50 states’ license plates and annoying each other for the hours we would be all crammed together. I’m thankful for the family dinners and movie nights. I’m thankful for the years us sisters dreaded matching outfits for photos and the games we would play. As a big sister, I have always hoped that I would be a great mentor to you, but I want to know that you have been the same for me.

The four of us in our diaper days

The four of us in our diaper days

While I am thankful for all my sisters and love them all very much, I want to say thank you, Sarah, for being an influence on me.

Thank you for showing me that when things get tough, you just need to fight back. Thank you for motivating me while I’m away at school and being a role model for not only me, but other people as well. Thank you for the days you had to straighten or do anything to my hair. The days we would blast the stereo in my car. The moments you made us all laugh so hard because you’re the craziest kid I’ve ever met. Most of all, thank you for showing me that I should never take anything or anyone for granted.

This would also be a time to say THANK YOU!!! To each and everyone who has supported my sister and family. I am thankful for all the love and support we have received and am in awe of the generosity we have seen from so many of you. We will be paying this forward for the rest of our lives.

So while Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all the things we are grateful for, I think it shouldn’t come down to being thankful for a month.

It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of society, but I’ve come to realize in these past few months that sometimes we need to stop and look around. Take in how lucky we are and how beautiful this life is. Let’s be thankful every second of every day. Let those you appreciate know that you are grateful for their existence. I know I sure am.

Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to eat up those mashed potatoes.

Lesson 1: Time Management

In my Communication Preparation class (a first year class through my dept.), we had a professor come as a guest speaker and give us a presentation on time management. We were told this was the best thing we would hear and to take notes. I took four pages to be exact. Just like everyone else, I was motivated by this idea and was like, “Yeah! I’ll totally do all this stuff!” But what did I really do?

Nothing of course.

See, in high school, I was the typical Honors student: I studied or wrote my paper last minute and managed to pull A’s, honor rolls and scholarships out. I never had to really study hard for anything. If you claim you didn’t do that as an Honors student you’re a) a liar or b) something is wrong with you.

Despite my mother’s warnings, I didn’t really change that mentality coming into college. Tests got hard, but I still thought I had it under control.

Finally (pardon my French), school started kicking my ass. I felt like I didn’t have enough time in my day to finish stuff even though I was taught in the presentation that I did. So, I recently sat down and reevaluated my management skills. Listen close kiddos, this could help you out.

1.)   Organization

I’m an avid list maker and I carry my planner around everywhere, but this wasn’t good enough for me. So what if I wrote down what I needed to get done? I needed a calendar to map things out and plan out at what time I was getting what things done. So, find a system that works for you.

An average week in my planner.

An average week in my planner.

Second, be realistic when writing things down. If you’re setting out four hours to write a paper, put in breaks or consider the interruptions you may face.

2. Workload

I wasn’t on campus too long before I realized that the work you completed in high school doesn’t amount to what you must do in college. In fact, they say on average that for every hour you’re in class, you must study for 2-3 hours outside of class.

This makes every college student panic and think  they don’t have enough time in the day. You have 24 hours in one day, that’s a LOT of time.

In the presentation, we were given this example:

One week= 168 hours

  • Sleep: 8hrs a day/ 56 wk
  • Eat: 3hrs a day (1 per meal)/ 21 wk
  • Class: 20 hrs a week
  • Study: 30 hrs a week
  • Exercise: 7 hrs a week
  • Work: 20 hrs a week

Time remaining: 14 hours

How many of us get eight hours of sleep every night? Work out every day? On top of having a part time job? AND still have time left over?!

So you see, it’s not that we don’t have enough time in our day it’s how we UTILIZE it.

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You’re also not going to work hard if you have nothing to work for, although I think the fact you’re paying to go to school & have a career on the line is a good amount of motivation personally, sometimes we need that extra push.

Maybe you want all A’s for the semester. Write that goal somewhere and put it somewhere visible. Dedicate your time to achieving that goal. Everything you complete is bringing you closer to reaching it.

3.) Find somewhere to study

I was told that you need to find somewhere other than your dorm room to study. I didn’t take it seriously at first, but after one night in the library I knew that that is the absolute truth. In fact, I am in there almost every day and is where I get the most work done. The library may not be the place for you! Maybe it’s your residence hall lounge or a local cafe.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t study in your room. I lay in bed and look at flashcards. I’m saying that shouldn’t be your sole location to crack open a book.

I love working in the little "cubicle" desks in the library.

I love working in the little “cubicle” desks in the library.

4) Break down the work

Do the hard stuff first! You’re dreading that history homework? Get it out of the way, take a break and then the rest of your assignments will seem like a breeze.

I was also taught to break down large assignments (like a paper) into smaller tasks. After you establish a topic, research and create an outline you take one day and write an outline, then the next day the first paragraph, then finish the first page, etc. It seems like a no brainer, but how many of us actually space it out? I am going to attempt this breaking down method on my next paper!

5. Don’t stress

Finally, don’t stress out about everything. As I’ve illustrated above, there IS enough time. Eliminate the time nibblers like Facebook & Twitter (I’m REALLY trying) and make a clear and precise agenda.

Checking off tasks on your to-do list is such a great feeling. I’ve noticed a great improvement after going over my time management notes and although sometimes it’s hard not to get sidetracked, it’s well worth it in the end.

So, hopefully this helps as we begin getting into that haze of longing for Thanksgiving Break and dreading finals. Focus hard, the first semester is rapidly coming to an end!

From midterms to margaritas

Wow, is it really the end of October already? These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and there is not enough space for me to possibly even tell you all that has gone down during that time. Bear with me as I tell you about my time from test taking to laying in paradise.

Part I: Midterms

Ah yes, the big scary tests that everyone warns you about.

Of course, the week consisted of hours spent on creating flash cards and going over notes. The library was definitely packed more than usual that week, whether it was in the afternoon or late at night. However, for the most part the tests weren’t all too difficult.

In fact, it felt like the week after fall break was worse, which is not fun after you’ve been on vacation, let me tell you. My student records state that my midterms consisted of all A’s and one B+. I’m not mad about that and (more importantly) my parents were pleased, so I think overall my midterm week went well. Who knows, maybe my teachers are making this look like a walk in the park and then will completely blow our minds when it comes to finals week. Yikes, here’s hoping this next month and a half goes smoothly!

Whether or not they will lay the hammer down on us later or not, I give some serious props to my UIndy professors. I told each professor how I would be gone for three days after fall break and each one was very supporting and flexible, which leads me to the next section of my blog…

Part II: Margaritas

Let me start this off by saying that the title of this section was really only chosen because of the whole “m” thing going on with midterms.

My family was blessed with the opportunity to travel down to the US Virgin Islands where we stayed at a beautiful resort in St. Thomas. The lovely Make-A-Wish Foundation made this weeklong vacation possible. We were picked up from our house and travelled to Chicago in a stretch limo. We then stayed the night by O’Hare and woke up at 3:30 the next morning to catch a flight to Atlanta and Atlanta to St. Thomas. When we arrived in St. Thomas and got settled in our rooms, I couldn’t help but think we had walked right into a movie.

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

The next five days were filled with unforgettable memories. I got to snorkel with my dad and sister, learned how to scuba dive, relax in a body wrap at the spa and searched through the local shops and stands in the town.

Snorkeling with my dad and sister.

Snorkeling with my dad and sister.

One side of the pool.

One side of the pool.

checking out some of the locals' stands

checking out some of the locals’ stands

Oh, and the drinking age in USVI is 18, so being the big and bad 19-year-old that I am, I got to enjoy a nice strawberry margarita on our first night! Let me tell you that they do NOT mess around when it comes to alcohol in the Caribbean, so although I was allowed full bar privileges, I definitely did not have too much with my family.

Enjoying my first margarita at dinner!

Enjoying my first margarita at dinner!

I think the best moments throughout the days were the ones made by just lounging by the pool with my whole family. Sarah made sure she got to lay out with us and even joined us for dinner. Having all six of us sit down at a table and eat and talk for the first time in a few months was one of the greatest moments I have had in awhile.

I think the hardest part of the whole week was leaving, mainly because we all didn’t want to come back to reality (and a small percentage because we knew we could no longer walk around in shorts).

Overall, I can’t thank Make-A-Wish enough for granting Sarah’s wish of having us all hang out on the beach together. Seeing her smile and giggle was absolutely priceless. Sure, I had to make up work the whole next week, but I wouldn’t have traded that for the world!

So, that’s how my month has been overall. I said I would blog once a week and I really, really mean it this time! I can’t leave you all hanging, right?

My final thought to you is that if you ever have the chance to donate to Make-A-Wish, do it. They work extremely hard to give these kids their wishes and go above and beyond in doing so. Sarah even said that for WHEN we do her victory trip, we will definitely have to go back there again. I couldn’t agree more!

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SarahStrong

I normally would never post two blogs in the same week, but I feel like dedicating one to someone very special to my heart: my little sister, Sarah Crane.

Let me start off by saying that I am the oldest of four girls. Being very close in age, we all are very close. We each have different characteristics, but Sarah can always be defined as “marching to the beat of her own drum.”

Crane girls take on Chicago for the fourth of July weekend.

Crane girls take on Chicago for the fourth of July weekend.

Sarah is a runner, a dancer,  an artist, a girl who can eat so much it would put a teenage boy to shame and is most definitely a comedian. She is gorgeous with a smile so bright, you can’t help but smile back. Her laugh is absolutely infectious.

In early July, Sarah was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 4 colon cancer, something very rare to be found in someone as young as her.  Knowing the seriousness of this, Sarah vowed to beat this and became the most courageous girl I have ever seen.

The cancer was not only in her colon, but had spread to her bowels, liver, bladder and lung. Sarah started chemo and continued to have a very positive attitude -although sometimes the days were hard- and kept fighting on.

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This was obviously a very large shock to us and it hit me hard as I was planning on leaving for college in just a little over a month. What was supposed to be an exciting time turned into a stressful and heartbreaking time for us. However, we took  Sarah’s strength and used it as motivation.

Our lovely family friend began the “SarahStrong” fundraiser to show support for our family by creating purple tshirts (Sarah’s favorite color).  In just these few months, thousands of shirts have been sold, including to several local companies. There are over 3,000 people on the Facebook page. Others have sold ribbons, hair extensions, suckers, mugs and hoodies. Restaurants have “packed the place purple” for events. Rival schools of our high school have come together to have purple outs at their sporting events or have held fundraisers themselves for my sister and family.

The support my sister has received in our home community is astounding. Watching it from Indianapolis relieved my stress and kept me calm in knowing that hundreds of others were there for my family.

On Monday, Sept. 23, my sister had scans done to see the progress the chemo had made before starting her final round of chemo. She had been having some rough side effects, so they were going to switch the type of chemo.

Unfortunately, the scans indicated that the chemo had made no progress, the cancer had spread to other organs and there was nothing else to do. They deemed the cancer inoperable, untreatable and thus, terminal.

When I received that phone call at school, my world stopped.

No one ever thinks that something like this will happen to them. No one would ever think that my sweet, innocent sister would be a victim of this nasty disease. She has never done a single thing wrong to deserve to go through this.

All I could keep thinking was why?

And that’s all I have been thinking for these past few days. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve thought about a lot and then I’ve cried some more.

Sarah, under her request, is still receiving treatment. She said honestly, “I believe in Jesus and I’m not afraid.” However, she also said, “I’m not done. I’m going to beat this.”

I, too, believe in God and I believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I believe that God has a purpose for everyone, but I cannot wrap my head around His purpose now.

My dad and I had a conversation about this purpose as well. It’s something we’re both struggling with. However, the idea thought he brought up really struck to me.

When Sarah was at Northwestern, her and my dad talked about what she was going to do once she was cancer free and how she was going to give back. She talked about going to school and becoming a doctor who could help out kids with cancer because she had been through it before.

But what if, my dad said, she’s fulfilling her purpose right now? Maybe her purpose was to bring thousands of people in a community together and bring them closer to each other and God. That maybe they’d be walking down the street to see that they were both wearing that purple shirt, stopped and began a conversation that turned into something more. Maybe her purpose was to enlighten others and give them the strength that she carries still today.

It’s a good thought, but I, like Sarah, don’t think she’s done.

Either way, I think my sister’s purpose in life will bring joy to thousands. That’s just how she is. She has brought love and joy to every person she has encountered in her 15 years of life.

I hope my sister knows how much she is loved and how much she has taught others to love. She’s the most influential person I have met and I am blessed to call her my sister.

Now, my hope for all of you is that all of you go home, or down the hall to your sister, your brother or your parents’ room and you tell them how much you love them. Tell them how much you appreciate their love and everything they do for you. Time is precious and time cannot be replaced. These last 15 years spent with Sarah have been the greatest.

I will forever be SARAHSTRONG. Will you?

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First Month Madness

A month ago, I told all of you I was going to start my new blog on my college experience. A continuation, if you will, on my “Turning the Next Page” blog.

If you never read “Turning the Next Page,” a. you are missing out and b. you can totally catch up by going to http://blogs.etruth.com/turningthenextpage.

I know you’re not clicking on that link right away, so here’s some basic info on me:

I’m Kylee Crane and I am a freshman at the University of Indianapolis. I  am majoring in Communication, with a concentration in journalism and sports information. I started blogging my senior year of high school for my internship at The Elkhart Truth.

Anyway, I am planning on blogging once a week, I promise! The first month was so hectic with Welcome Week, the first week of classes and the adjustment to classes.

I really don’t want to bore you all with a large summary of a whole month’s worth of activities, so I am going to summarize it with the pictures I took throughout my first few weeks at UIndy.

My side of the dorm when I first moved into it:)

My side of the dorm when I first moved into it:)

My side of the dorm when I first moved into it:)

My side of the dorm when I first moved into it:)

Roomie's side!

Roomie’s side!

Living room

Living room

Our first night at school From left: Allie, me, Lizz, Mallory

Our first night at school
From left: Allie, me, Lizz, Mallory

We went to the Mumford and Sons Concert!

We went to the Mumford and Sons Concert!

The first home football game. Go Hounds!!

The first home football game. Go Hounds!!

Tommy's first football game :)

Tommy’s first football game :)

My roommates bought me cupcakes in celebration of me being chosen for the Online Editor position for our school newspaper. How fun!

My roommates bought me cupcakes in celebration of me being chosen for the Online Editor position for our school newspaper. How fun!

Roomie love for the family day football game!

Roomie love for the family day football game!

My mom (and grandma) came to visit on Family Day and went to the football game with me.

My mom (and grandma) came to visit on Family Day and went to the football game with me.

So there’s that!

I wish I could have taken more photos during Welcome Week, but there was simply no time! From playing huge icebreaker games, performances, bonfires and even a Casino night, UIndy did a phenomenal job of getting us, the new Greyhounds, acquainted with the University and other students on campus.

After finally getting in the groove, I am so happy that I chose the University of Indianapolis. The people, area and experiences thus far have been so wonderful.

Here’s to a wonderful year in the Hound Pound.