Last August my youngest brother, Mark, was killed in a farming accident in Virginia. It was a big shock, and even now doesn’t seem quite real. Our family in Arizona has visited with our relatives back east rather infrequently. Occasionally, several years might pass without having any type of family reunion. For several years prior to his death, Mark had been suggesting that we should plan a big family vacation where everyone could spend some extended time together. We had thought of Lake Powell or some similar location in the west. My extended family lives in Virginia, Arizona, Idaho, and California. We all agreed that it would be a great thing to do. Those plans remained just that…plans. We were going to do it…someday. After Mark’s untimely death, my son and my nephews said, ‘We really need to do this! Now!” It really hit home. We couldn’t put this off any longer.
So, about 9 months ago, we planned a week in mid-July, 2020, at a beachside house in Topsail Island, North Carolina. This was a huge, resort-style, house with 8 rooms with accommodations for all 18 of us…our Arizona family, Mark’s widow, my brother Larry and his sons, and their families. We were going to eat together, make homemade ice cream, collect shells, and have an all-around great time. This was going to be the biggest and best event we’ve ever done…perfect, except that Mark would not be there.
Then COVID-19 came along in March. We had already paid big bucks for the rental and the airline tickets. Surely, things that started out as a 2-week lockdown would be over by July. As the expected end-date of the virus kept getting moved out, we were a little nervous, but continued to plan for our fun time with everyone.
The big day approached. It looked like everything was going to work out. Kathy spent the week prior getting everything ready. New swim suits, vitamin packets, sun-hats and sunscreen, books and games. We were all set. On the morning prior to the flight, I checked in with the airline. We had our masks and our boarding passes. In spite of COVID-19 and the associated uncertainties, we were on our way…almost. At 9:30 that morning, two hours after I had checked-in, I got a phone call from my wife, Kathy. She had developed a cough, a fever, and a pretty bad headache. It had begun the day prior, but we didn’t think it was anything too serious. We were wrong.
After a visit to a nearby Urgent care, the PA said there seemed to be some lung issues, the symptoms were consistent with COVID-19, and travel was not advised…certainly not with a family gathering as the objective. The PA requested X-rays and started Kathy on antibiotics, and told her to take a COVID-19 test. The big day was not what we expected. I called the airline to cancel the flights. We were going to be home (getting tested) while everyone else was going to be together having a big time.
It turned out that with the antibiotics (and tons of prayer by many, many friends) Kathy’s condition rapidly improved. After a few days, her fever was gone. Her headache disappeared, and her cough was lingering, but greatly improved. After ten days, she was as good as new. (After 11 days, we’re still waiting to get the official test results.)
The family had a wonderful time as they relaxed, ate together, made homemade ice cream, and enjoyed their time together. We spent a little FaceTime with them, but it’s not quite the same. Kathy asked our sister-in-law to take some pictures of everyone. Sandy really did capture some great moments.
As I looked at those pictures that showed everyone smiling, laughing, and having a wonderful time, I was reminded of how it feels to miss a big event.
One day, quicker than we imagine, the Lord is going to return. Or, like Mark, we are going to see Jesus sooner than we expect. I don’t want to be missing from the pictures of that day. It will be an incredible, joyful, and glorious day.
In 1910, Wilbur Chapman wrote a hymn, called Glorious Day, that was recently ‘rediscovered’ by Casting Crowns. The last verse reminds us to be prepared:
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming.
One day the skies with His glories will shine.
Wonderful day my Beloved One’s bringing;
glorious Savior, this Jesus, is mine!
Living He loved me; dying, He saved me;
buried, He carried my sins far away.
Rising, He justified freely forever;
one day He’s coming: O glorious day!
Sandra Rodriguez says
Incredible story-telling of a family event that seamlessly ties into our upcoming spiritual family event!
I’m so sorry you missed this much-anticipated reunion with your family, Bruce. The Lord is faithful and even used this to show you we should do all to not miss our Great Reunion with Him. Praise God!
Thank you for sharing this and the beautiful music.
Bruce Cochran says
The Lord is faithful and works through all situations…planned by us, or otherwise. Thanks for your kind words, Sandra.
Connie Hodges says
I can’t thank you enough for writing this for our beloved Chorale. I’m not a “crier” but this made me cry. I feel in some ways we know your family, having met some of them and hearing stories. Thank you for continuing through this time to be our spiritual “pastor”. I usually really need to hear your thoughts just when you send them!
Stay well and know you are a huge Blessing.
Bruce Cochran says
Thanks for your kind words, and your friendship, Connie. You and Ron have become important and significant members of the chorale. You both encourage me, and I am very fortunate to know you. Philippians 1:3 says it pretty accurately. We heard today that Kathy did not have Covid. Thanks for your prayers.
Evelyn martinez says
I am so happy Kathy is well.
We all miss you both and singing for our Lord. I look forward to emails and your remarks because they so important to hear. Some days are just hard but we must carry on. We will sing again.
Although you were unable to go on the trip, the praise is that the family did finally spend time together and Kathy has her health back. I have no doubt that you and Kathy will make it to the next reunion. Maybe an AZ Thanksgiving! You are both a blessing to me, and I can’t wait to be back singing with you!🎶
Bruce Cochran says
Thanks for your kindness, Ann. We look forward to singing too.
Dianne Darke says
Last year, I decided to go to the U.K. to visit my brother, as he was having a birthday with a big O in it. We have always been extremely close. Just like you Bruce, I planned several months ahead for the big event, then my husband had to have an operation. It didn’t go as well as planned, but my husband, daughters and sons-in-law urged me to still go to England, and that they would look after their dad. It was with much trepidation and several tears that I actually boarded the plane, torn between staying home with my husband, or seeing my brother.
We had a wonderful family reunion, and thanks to Facetime, I was able to chat to my husband for at least an hour every day from England. This reassured me, as I could physically see him, and also I could judge by his face how much pain he was in. As you know, people can say “I feel fine” to reassure a loved one, but you need to see them, to see if they are covering something up. So each day, I was reassured, and I knew if my husband took a turn for the worse, I could easily catch a flight home, and be with him in a matter of 10-12 hours..
We had a lovely family reunion and party for my brother. I am so glad we did, and that I went despite my misgivings. My brother died fairly suddenly this spring. This year, I would have been unable to fly to the U.K. because of Covid, and extremely tight quarantine regulations in the U.K. (even immediate family members were not allowed into his house, despite his illness having nothing to do with Covid). So thank goodness I went last year, when he was in perfect health.
My husband is fully recovered, and I have beautiful memories and pictures of myself and my brother. So, it makes me realize to never put off something. None of us, except God, knows what will happen tomorrow. We can always put off things for very good and valid reasons, but this particular day and time will never come again. Just like we don’t know the time and day Jesus will return. So if anyone reading this is thinking “I must get around to doing……”, remember the parable of the Rich man and building bigger and better barns to keep all his crops in, so he could take life easy, eat drink and enjoy himself and God said “This very night you will have to give up your life”. (Luke 12 16-20). So, if you have been putting off seeing family, or making amends for something, just remember that there may not always be a tomorrow.
Bruce Cochran says
Excellent words, Dianne. I’m so happy it worked out for you to see your brother when you were able to. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Melissa McLaughlin says
Powerful message, powerful song. Thank you for sharing these heartfelt stories, Bruce. The loss of loved ones lingers on, while the joy of family grows sweeter still. I was caught up in your vacation plans, imagining the excitement of getting the family gathered from far and wide only to be brought up short by serious health concerns. Thank God that you and Kathy are both doing better! But what a spiritual insight to gather from this experience. Praying for all who are lost, that they may have eyes to see and run to our Savior before that Glorious Day. What a Day that will be! May God bless you, Kathy, your family and your wonderful music ministry. May your songs and words lift hearts, soothe sorrows and keep pointing people to Christ!
Bruce Cochran says
Thanks, Melissa for your good words. I have to admit, I feel a little better about the experience as I look back, compared to how I felt at the time. I am thankful that Kathy recovered quickly, and I’m thankful that our son and his family were able to go. Our grandchildren had never met their cousins, aunt, and uncle. This little experience has taught me to trust and anticipate that important reunion with the Lord as well as family and friends who are already celebrating there.