My niece, Johanna, writes of the death from Covid of her father and my friend of 50 years, Jim Kodlick – a hero short story. He was a real life hero to me. He was a lot like my own father who danced at Jim’s wedding, free for a moment of all worries.
The Story of the Song “Return to Blue”
In March of 2020 things turned dark. One week after the COVID lockdown went into effect; my father called and said he needed help.
He knew his health had taken a turn for the worse, and he could no longer stay at home alone. I brought him to our home and within a matter of days and multiple phone calls and tele-med visits with his doctors, they instructed me to call an ambulance and send him to the ER. “Don’t you take him. Call an ambulance” they said, “the risk of COVID at the ER is too great”. I can still see the medics wheeling my Dad out of our front hallway and into the ambulance as clear as day. As we waved goodbye, I knew it was different. I think he did too. It was the last time.
Within two months of that ambulance ride, my father was gone, and due to COVID restrictions, my siblings and I were never able to go into the hospitals or nursing home while he was suffering and nearing his end. A stroke of grace allowed him to come home to us for a few days in hospice before his passing, but he was unable to speak, so final conversations had already occurred without our knowing. My siblings and I never left his side as he rested peacefully in my sister’s home along the Penns Creek during those sacred few days.
There was another guest with us the entire time – as if he was checking in and waiting until my Dad was ready. It was an eagle. He would perch in the tree above the creek in front of the house, and as he soared in and out of view, we would catch glimpses of him. On the day of my father’s passing, the eagle was there, waiting and watching from the tree at the end of the driveway. As the white hearse quietly rolled away at dawn, the eagle watched over protectively, and then flew with him along the creek, showing him the way.
Veiled in great heartache, I went to Mother Nature for answers. In the summer, while kayaking on the Susquehanna River with my sister, the eagle showed up again and we knew it was Dad letting us know he was with us. By the fall, I was still aching, and doing my best to function. I continued to return to the river for peace, often with my daughter. One day at the river’s edge, my daughter sensed my anguish and tension and urged me to Just. Sit. Down. Meditate, and feel the spirit of Mother Nature, the river, the sky, the eagle. She was right.
Now it is winter, and while I still grieve, just like so many of us during this odd time of COVID, I am at last hopeful. Thanks to the wisdom shown to us all by Mother Nature, I know that, particularly with the coming of spring, this darkness will turn to light. From discord, we will return to harmony. My heart will continue to heal. And even when the sky is grey, it will always return to blue.”
Jim was a quiet man and an example of a hero within that I will always keep with me.
Hear Johanna’s beautiful song for her father “Return to Blue” here. See #16 > http://www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org/song-project.html