Walking among the Waves

Its 6:00 pm
cold/dark/snoring cheetah

I wrote a while back that I had found a new walking partner and his name is Earl. We are about the same age but he is in much better shape then I am. I met Earl when Catfish and I went to the library on Tuesdays to movie hunt. While Catfish’s work schedule doesn’t allow him to go the library anymore,I still went and when I told Earl about my misadventures in trying to find a walking partner,he gladly said he would walk with me.
After a slow start due to a shoe issue,Earl and I are doing pretty well…we are walking four times a week in all sorts of weather,from mild wintery days to frigid cold. We walk anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes,we don’t have watches,we just walk a route and go until we get tired. Its pretty interesting in the sense we have no real idea how far we walk on any given day,we just go.
So far we have walked in two different parks and I’m thinking we may be looking at a new city park in the next few weeks,variety is what keeps people walking,going over the same path can get boring and we will wanting a more challenging route as well.
Earl is a cool dude….he has a big heart and a gentle soul. He has been married to his wife Alice for over 35 years now. While I haven’t met Alice as of yet,I suspect I will come spring and warmer weather as she enjoys walking as well and they walk during the week as a couple.
Coming to the library on Tuesdays was my one social event before Earl and I started walking. But it has marked with some sadness….as with any place of business,you’re bound to have your regulars and for the past couple of years,there has been a group regulars on Tuesdays…myself,Catfish,Earl,crazy Bruce and Steve. Then when Catfish had to drop out,it was the four of us and then Earl stopped coming. Steve was always there first. He was a retired gentleman who walked with a cane and he had some health issues. But he was always there on Tuesdays,we think he had a regular run every week in visiting various libraries around the area. He enjoyed collecting good books and films.
Whenever I got a DVD/BluRay combo,as long as the disc was in good shape,I would give it to Steve.  Instead of getting to the library 10 minutes before the bookstore open,I found myself getting there 30 minutes just so we could stand in line and chat. And on those rare times where Steve was late,well we still let him go in first.
When Earl started missing,no one said anything for about three weeks,we noticed but figured he and his wife were busy but after three weeks,we started asking if anyone had seen Earl and we were starting to get concerned when a Earl sighting was reported,he had dropped by on the weekends or a Thursday. He was alive and well and eventually he popped up on a Tuesday…it was then that he said he would like to walk and then he explained to me that his oldest son had died of cancer and he had been taking care of things. I shared with him our story and our friendship was made stronger. He was really touched when I told him we all were asking if anyone had seen him,that a group of strangers actually cared that much really amazed him.
Now the same thing has happened to Steve,as I write this,its been six weeks since we last saw him on our Tuesday afternoon library run. We all asked if anyone had seen or heard from Steve but not a sighting has been reported and last week as Earl and I walked,I told Earl that I think Steve had passed away,he agreed because of the various health problems he was suffering from. I find myself hoping I’m wrong and mad at myself for not bothering to get Steve’s phone number,being so socially withdrawn is not always a good thing. One would have thought I would have been a bit more aware after Earl went quiet but yet somehow I always assumed that Steve would always be there every Tuesday.
Earl commented to me while we were walking last week that his wife was really struggling with Christmas this year,no tree,unsure as to hang their son’s stocking and they have a relationship with the daughter-in-law much like Lori’s family had with her youngest brother David. He started talking and I just listened as we walked down and around the small lake in the park.
The only thing I said was when he said it would be a little easier next year and I said “No,it won’t”. It never gets eaiser,the pain will move from the sharpness you get when you stub a toe or fall down. Unlike that pain where you can grab the injured area and massage it,this kind of grief gets into the heart and just stays there. You can’t touch it,you can’t get much relief if any. I can’t do anything to help my friend because while I have lost two brothers and Lori,I do think losing a child,even one who is an adult,is a little different,a child is a product (you hope) of what two parents can point at and show what their combined love,sacrifice and hard work has given the world.
I have no words of comfort or wisdom to offer because there is none to give,I only have a ear and even then I have to tread lightly because my own waves are rolling in and I don’t want to be overwhelmed. I had hoped that I would be putting up a tree this year but as December rolled in,I knew I wasn’t ready as of yet. And in an amazing and unspoken way,my friends and family seem to have known this as I didn’t get but one Christmas card this year,they understand how rough this is.
But I do remain hopeful that one year I’ll get that spirit back and be able to put up a small tree,have a Elf Day and get a little more out there. I’m enjoying the walking very much and I find myself looking forward to leaving the house instead of just hiding out in it.

4 thoughts on “Walking among the Waves

  1. This is, in its own way, a beautiful Christmas story, Michael. Speaking about the concern in your little group, the sense of community, the sharing of memories, even painful ones. I think you are on your way to a little tree in your future, maybe one year when you least expect it. Also, update us on Steve. Maybe he came down with something and was just recuperating……….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I managed to put a small Christmas tree up the other day. I consider that a big accomplishment. I’m sorry to hear about your friend being missing in action. Lesson learned – get some sort of contact info.

    Liked by 1 person

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