Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – I’m afraid to die

I’m afraid to die.

There, I have said it.

Now you can admit it as well, if indeed that’s how you feel.

I am afraid to die and I admit it. Even though I have already been dead, at least once,  I’m in no hurry to do it again. I could bold face lie and say my numerous and legitimate visits into the darkness have better prepared me for the ‘big’ moment however they haven’t. In fact they may have just made it all that more confusing.

I could casually shrug the shoulders, pretend the idea of death does not faze me, pull out the macho card – but I won’t – for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it would simply be perpetuating a lie, it would paint me up to be a strong, brave, got-it-together guy when in fact I am pretty much like most folks… scared

I am so very blessed with my world for so many, many ways and part of the reason is my strong spiritual beliefs. I’m thankful for the great architect of the universe, believe in a higher power and freely admit I have no idea what he/she/it entails.

I am not running this show and comfortable with that.

What I do believe in my heart is that I am simply a small part of a much bigger plan which I will likely never comprehend. At least not in this state.

I do believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking. However what happens after this, when the curtain falls, when it goes dark and the body gets burned? Not a clue.

That scares me somewhat.

Is there a Heaven or Hell? Do I simply pass to another level or dimension? One more level of life’s’ onion? Reincarnation? Soul travel? Rot in the ground?

Ironically I just finished a five year writing project  significantly dealing with life, death, ghosts etc. The experience was fascinating and I spent most of the five years doing research – a great amount about ‘life after death’. I learned a lot, including that no one knows anything about it ‘for sure’. (Book plug time – a few copies of ‘first edition’ Lost Souls of Lakewood still available at Mosaic Books).

I’ve been harshly reminded of the sting death carries by the recent passing of my dear friend Danny McGauley who dragged me into the book writing project. We became very close friends working together during those five years, and then while the book was getting printed, he died.

I feel ripped off. We worked so hard together to share his dream and now that it’s time to party – he’s gone. I feel horrible for Dan, I feel even sadder for Louise his fabulous friend and wife, and I feel sorry for me. I miss my Danny Boy and intend to celebrate his life with an event soon yet for now it’s still a tad raw.

Yesterday I learned another brother by choice, as close a friend as one can have, is in critical care having suffered a significant stroke. We are numbed by it all. Too young, too happy-go-lucky, too kind.

We are often told that there is a reason why these things happen. I can’t think of one.

Dying is a bad habit going around and too many of my friends have been doing it lately. I’m telling all of my friends right now I don’t like it and stop doing it.

The past few weeks of  forest fire smoke has not been easy on my emphysema. I’ve been struggling with breathing and it’s been an uncomfortable reminder how blessed I am to even be here. It’s scared me and I can tell by the looks on their faces that my closest friends Curtis, Les Jim, Jimmy, Barry are concerned. For Tez it has been hell.

All of that said and done – I would not be here today to tell you how scared I am if not for the amazing people at KGH and the respiratory workers who, without question, kept me alive these past five or six years. Dr. Grahame McCauley and other are absolute heroes.

KGH is terribly understaffed and underfinanced in many ways

They need way more financial support for funding and research. Heart and kidney’s get all the attention, however lungs are in desperate need of financial support.

When I see the local protests taking place – with the misguided and directed anger it makes me choke – which I already do too much of.

We need to be positive in these harsh times of COVID fear.

Take your ability to breath, walk and shout and turn it to positive hope and help. Shout at the right people like your Federal and Provincial politicians – people who really set the rules.

Lobby for better work conditions in the hospital and more research for lungs.

Lobby and make noise to support staying alive.

I may not know a lot about life and death but I do know I am here now and I have the ability to make change and make a difference.

I choose to try and make positive change.

And freely admit – I am in no hurry to die.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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