Lois Cochran

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LIFE AND LIFE

Eighteen years ago my first grandson was born. He was a nine and a half pound package of joy, a gift to fill my heart. He was delivered caesarian section and because he was so big and my daughter is not, he was a bit distressed – quite purple. I followed him to the pediatric ICU while they stiched up my daughter and the nurses gave me a gown and mask and I was allowed to massage his little limbs while praying over him and dedicating his life to God. His color soon changed from deep purple to a lovely pink and I suspect my color also became more normal.

Devlin graduated from high school a few days ago. Sadly, I couldn’t be there in person, but was definitely with him in spirit. We have always enjoyed one another’s company and even though today I am seventy-one and he is eighteen, we still have fun together. When he was twelve, we took a road trip, spending almost two weeks together. At that time in his life, Devlin was into fifties music which was “my” music as a teen, so we listened to “our” favorite music for the two weeks on the road.

Also at that time in Devlin’s life, he was very much into birds, which was A-ok with me because I love birds – photographing them, listening to them, studying them, etc. So, one important stop on our trip was the Zoo in North Carolina which had a fantastic aviary and Dev especially wanted to see the falcons.

As Devlin begins the next chapter in his life, I may be approaching the final chapter in my life and find that the hardest part of accepting that my life may be ending, is that I may not be here to see Devlin’s life blossom into something even more beautiful. But I am forever grateful for the time we have had.

Lord, I thank you for the gift of grandchildren and the joy that has filled my heart. I pray for each of them; that they might live lives pleasing to you. I pray that they will bring joy to others and leave the world a better place. I pray that each of them will be blessed as I have with wonderful children and grandchildren.

Oh, and one more thing, Lord . . . I’d love to stick around a while longer to see my grandchildren become adults. 🙂

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CELEBRATE LIFE

The Lord of the Dance – a simple song that has such a profound message.

“I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At bethelehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he!
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he!
(…Lead you all in the dance, said he!)”

The Lord danced when he created the world and at every opportunity He celebrated life and wants us to celebrate as well. He celebrated even with “the devil on his back” and victory was His. The victory is ours to share . . . so we have much to celebrate.

Life doesn’t look so good to me today, it is hard to celebrate; but I know that in a little while, I’ll be dancing with Him. What a fantastic thing to look forward to.

“I danced for the scribe and the pharisee
But they would not dance and they wouldn’t follow me
I danced for the fishermen, for peter james and john
They came with me and the dance went on:

I danced on the sabbath and I healed the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped me and stripped me and hung me high
And left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone
But I am the dance and I still go on!”

“They cut me down but I leap up high
I am the life that will never never die!
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me
I am the lord of the dance, said he!”

Life goes on — in a different place and in a “forever” way. We say goodbye to loved ones and there’s a little hole in our heart, but they’re not “forever gone,” are they? They live on in our memory and then one day we are reunited and can celebrate together again! God is so good. So celebrate life today and know that even better days are ahead.

“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he!
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he!”

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HANGIN’ IN THERE

That’s what I’m doing today – just hangin’ in there. A visit with the doctor yesterday brought the unwelcome news that the Leukemia has broken out of remission and is very aggressive. So I’m back in the hospital today and receiving more chemo and various other things designed to fight this ugly disease. My odds are not good, but they never were.

After the transplant, I seemed to be doing very well with a few minor bumps in the road and I thought I was on my way. Now it seems we are back to page one. It’s not that the transplant failed, it’s that the immune system isn’t strong enough yet to fight the Leukemia which decided to pop back into the picture. The next few days will likely give us an idea of what to expect. Currently, it appears that this disease is going to win the battle and my time is limited. So, I’m hangin’ in there praying for a miracle.

I do believe in miracles and would welcome one right now. Just a little more time would be nice. It’s not that I’m afraid of dying and I look forward to the wonders that await me – seeing my Lord, Jesus; being reunited with my sweet husband who has been gone for almost nine years; as well as freedom from the restraints and problems of this world – no more tears, no more pain . . . just peace and joy. But when death is staring you in the face, it’s a little scary and seems much too soon. Isn’t it kinda funny that even though we know that everyone (including ourselves) will die – it’s part of life- we are so not ready when it comes.

Anyway, for now, please pray with me for a miracle . . . Lord, I know that you have a plan and it’s always the right plan, the right time, and not always in agreement with our plan and our timing. But we have to trust that you know what is best for us and for our family. I’m praying for a miracle, Lord, because I would like to live longer, to spend more time with family, to serve you in the church and in the world, to exemplify what faith can accomplish. Thank you for this day, for yesterday, and for tomorrow.

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TAKE A DEEP BREATH . . .

Well, I was feeling pretty confident that I was on the way to complete recovery until today. Now I’ll spend a few sleepless nights waiting for the results of today’s bone marrow biopsy.

I knew I wasn’t gaining strength – just the opposite recently. But I thought it was the result of some of the heavy-duty meds I have been receiving. Today the doctor expressed his concern about the dropping blood counts, and my loss of strength. He said he wanted the biopsy to make sure the Leukemia hasn’t re-surfaced. He thinks it is possible that the symptoms are caused by the meds, but we have to be sure.

I’m not sure where we go from here if the Leukemia has come out of remission. The doctor mentions “Plan B” – and that may mean another series of chemo and another transplant. I hope not. But I’ll do whatever is necessary, if it’s possible to beat this thing.
I haven’t prepared my “bucket list” and I would love to have time to do that and scratch off a few of the items on that list.

So, I unashamedly ask for all of your prayers – I know they are heard and I have confidence in God’s plan for me.

Lord, please hear our prayers. I am asking for the “right” results to the bone marrow biopsy; you know what I want, but I trust your plan and leave my life totally in your hands. Thank you for the gift of life, for the good friends who will be praying for me, and for my wonderful family.

Posted in FEAR, LEUKEMIA, PRAYER, STEM CELL TRANSPLANT, Uncategorized, WORRY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MOTHER’S DAY

“M” is for the million things she gave me,
“O” means only that she’s growing old,
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me,
“H” is for her heart of purest gold;
“E” is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
“R” means right, and right she’ll always be,
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and for many of us we will remember our Moms who have gone before us. Some of us will be celebrated by our children and some of our daughters will be celebrated by their children. It’s a special day.

The song is simple and a bit “maudlin” but typical of the times – we were a little less “sophisticated,” and easily entertained. Of course, all mothers are not created equal and not everyone has wonderful memories of their childhood and motherly love. But I like to think that most mothers love their children beyond measure and make all kinds of sacrifices for the good of their offsring.

What are the million things she gave me? When I was too young to feed myself, she fed me; she bathed me and changed my diapers; she sat with me when I was ill; she played silly games with me when I was bored; she read to me before I could read; she sang to me when I was unhappy or unable to go to sleep; she held me close and made me feel safe and secure in her arms.

When I was older, she taught me to carry my load. I had certain responsibilities in the family – helping with the house cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, etc. I was expected to do my schoolwork without excuses and to do it by myself with little or no supervision or help. I was expected to help my younger siblings if necessary. There were times when I felt “put upon” but every thing that she taught me and made me do, prepared me to cope in a world where things are not necessarily easy.

Thank you, Mom. I still miss you!

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CHANGE

I talked about change in a recent blog and yesterday I came across the following poem that I wrote some years when I was an aspiring poet 🙂 Just thought I’d share it.

CHANGE

The stars above, the earth below,
The mighty, effervescent sea,
Are moving always to and fro
In everlasting harmony
And underlying unity
Exemplifying certainty . . . of change

A river with no place to go
Grows rancid with the stench of death.
It has a need to freely flow,
Unfettered through eternity
To manifest its destiny.
It welcomes opportunity to grow.

But man held fast by fear does show
No fondess for the winds of change
He turns from what he doesn’t know
Preferring undeniably
What pain he knows — what he can see,
to unfamiliarity; and so,

His life becomes his death. Although
He tells himself it’s meant to be,
He shuns the face the mirror shows:
Too weary to be such as he,
Too lacking in profundity,
too etched with the enormity of NO.

What folly! Fate will but bestow
A little serendipity
And then will he be forced to go
To face at last the “enemy”
Discovering ability to conquer fear
Emerging free to grow

Ah, yes. This is not new, I know
Another choice, another chance
To change and challenge status quo
it need not cause such misery —
Be still my wretched heart and see
another opportunity to grow.

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PURE JOY

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James1:2-4)

Considering “trials” as pure joy is not as easy as it sounds. Wait a minute, it doesn’t sound easy! It is true that perseverence under difficult circumstances can bring maturity and can strengthen your faith, as well as result in a new appreciation for life in general. It takes a concerted effort, however, to find the joy and not lose faith. A positive attitude is so very important.

There have been days when I have wondered if the decision to have the bone marrow transplant was the right thing to do. It has been a struggle and will be for a while. I am by nature a positive person, but I’d be lying if I said I never felt a bit depressed and tempted to just stay in bed all day. What helps me the most is that there are so many wonderful people praying for me and staying in touch even though they haven’t seen me in person since August of last year. That’s how long I’ve been in treatment; in and out of the hospital. It’s as though I’ve lost the better part of a year. I must be maturing!!!

And, these days, I am feeling stronger and able to do more, including having close friends over for a wee sip, and light dinner. It’s so good to be with loved ones and feel almost normal. I’m not sure I’m at the place where I can consider this “adventure” as “pure joy,” but it has definitely tested my perserverence and faith, and I hope I have passed the test.

Thank you, Lord, for carrying me when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Thank you for the fantastic support that I have had from family and friends; God bless them all. Help me to maintain a positive attitude and to finally consider this trial as “pure joy!”

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LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

“Blow me a kiss across the room;
Say I look nice when I’m not.
Touch my hair as you pass my chair,
Little things mean a lot”

Here is another simple song from the fifties that reminds us how important “little things” are as we relate to friends, family, the loves of our lives. It reminds me of “Bud,” a dear friend who has moved from this life on to better “digs.” Bud always had a little joke to share, or a little piece of paper on which he had written some special greeting or a reminder that everyone needs to be hugged several times every day to maintain good health. He was always ready with a quick smile and a hug and he never failed to brighten my day. The magical power of TOUCH. Touch says so much more than mere words.

“Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you’re far away
Little things mean a lot.”

“Don’t have to buy me diamonds or pearls
Champagne, sables or such
I never cared much for diamonds and pearls
‘Cause honestly, honey, they just cost money”

Little expressions of love are generally more meaningful than lavish purchases of diamonds, furs, or other expensive gifts (well, okay, maybe one diamond!) The fact that someone cares enough to hold your hand, or take your arm as you cross the street, call you when he/she says they will, and takes the time to write a note when they are away means so much. When was the last time you actually received a hand-written letter or card expressing love or concern? It’s so much more meaningful than an email because someone actually gave you some of their precious time.

“Give me your hand when I’ve lost my way
Give me your shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray
Give me your heart to rely on”

How wonderful it is to have someone who so loves you that you can cry on his/her shoulder when you are in need of a good, cleansing, heart-healthy cry! No need to feel embarrassed or inadequate, just in need. That’s what friends are for.

“Send me the warmth of a secret smile
To show me you haven’t forgot
For always and ever, now and forever
Little things mean a lot”

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of special friends. Thank you for the gift of touch – the ability to feel and express love with a simple touch of the hand. Thank you for loving us so much. Help me to remember that often a touch of the hand means so much more than the words that come so easily from my mouth. Help me to remember that little things mean a lot.

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THE GOOD OLD DAYS?

I grew up in the forties and fifties. Things were very different back then; in some ways better, in other ways not. I am convinced that “today” is the best; yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unpredictable. Nevertheless, it’s fun to compare the differences in lifestyle.

When I was a girl living in Michigan, sodas were called “pop” and my favorite was Faygo redpop. However, we rarely had “pop” and when we did it was a very special treat. Today my grandsons demand their sodas and have them on a regular basis (grandma thinks it’s too much sugar, but then . . . )

Being a large family with a single wage-earner, there wasn’t a lot of money for “extras.” My parents never bought candy and only occasionally ice cream. The only time we had candy was at Halloween when the five of us donned masks and, carrying large paper bags, scoured the neighborhood and the neighboring neighborhoods in order to bring home as much candy as we could possibly procure. Then the candy went up into the cupboard to be distributed by Mom as she saw fit. We never raided that cupboard (well, maybe my brothers did). The candy generally lasted for two or three months.

Eating out was something we never did. We made our own pizza with a box of Chef Boyardee pizza mix which by today’s standards was probably awful, but we liked it. We did bake our own cookies, mostly peanut butter cookies or refrigerator cookies. Mom baked and she was good! She made great bread and cakes and we loved it all.

Warm summer days and evenings found us playing games outside; kick the can, hide and seek, bike riding, role playing, etc. Today, my grandsons spend their free time in front of the TV or computer, playing games with their thumbs. We did watch some TV, but it was relatively non-violent – cowboys vs. Indians, good guy catches bad guy, etc. Seldom did we see a woman assaulted or treated with less than a certain respect – even Gunsmoke’s Madam and saloon keeper, Miss Kitty, was portrayed as a refined woman and treated respectfully.

My siblings and I had to help carry the load at home. Mom never did dishes; she cooked the meals and we had to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. There was no dishwasher! Saturday was “cleaning day” and the entire house was cleaned — this was mostly done by the girls and Mom, the boys helped Dad with the yard work. My grandsons have to be bribed to help with housework and yardwork.

We never went to the doctor (no insurance then) unless we were very sick and the only time I went to the dentist was to have teeth extracted when they became so decayed that the pain was unbearable. Orthodontics was unheard of. Unless you had severe “buck” teeth (pushed forward), you lived with whatever imperfections you had. Today, most kids have braces by the time their twelve.

We didn’t have an automatic washing machine and dryer until I was in my teens which meant we hauled the wringer washer into the kitchen every Monday, filled it with hot water, and washed the clothes. Then they had to be hung out to dry – even in the winter (brr!) We didn’t have “miracle” fabrics then so we had to dampen the dry clothes, roll them up and let them set for a while. Then iron them with a hot iron that probably weighed five pounds.

If you have guessed that I was the oldest, you are right. I believe having so much responsibility as a child probably made me a more responsible adult able to cope with life and it’s ups and downs. I am interested to see how my grandchildren, whose life has been easier in some ways, will cope. In other ways, their life has been more difficult than mine. Too many choices, too many demands from peer groups – drugs, alcohol, etc.

Every generation faces new challenges and enjoys new life-saving and life-easing technology. Yesterday had its advantages and disadvantages; today also. As I said, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unpredictable, Today is good!

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of a loving family and the up-bringing that made me who I am. I have been truly blessed. I pray for my children and grandchildren, and the following generations, that one day they can look back and see their lives as blessed.

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