Shin Splints, Shoes, Snowfall and Subjects Set Aside

Dearest Rachel –

So, it appears that whatever I was struck with yesterday when I attempted to run is referred to as ‘shin splints,’ and they’re a fairly common ailment when you don’t have the ‘right’ shoes. And while I’m not about to argue with more seasoned runners, it’s weird that I’ve never dealt with this before – and I can assure you, I’ve never had the right shoes before.

Which doesn’t seem to cause problems for the folks in places like Kenya and wherever, places where people are walking for miles to find water – any water, no matter how filthy or polluted – that is the main point of World Vision’s mission efforts. I mean, if they don’t have something as basic as water, it’s a fairly good bet they don’t have the ‘right’ shoes either, no?

And what of the original Marathoner himself, Pheidippides? I doubt those sandals of his constituted the ‘right’ shoes as he dashed off to Athens to announce the good news: “Rejoice! We conquer!”

Of course, according to the legend, he dropped dead right after saying that, so maybe he could have used better shoes. Certainly, of all people, he would have been well within his rights to say, “Oy, my feet are killing me!” with justification.

Why, who knows? Maybe, with the ‘right’ shoes, he’d still be alive today.

No, wait a minute… never mind.

As with yesterday, the morning was cold, gray and overcast. In fact, there had been some talk on the radio last evening about the possibility of snow showers during the day. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time we’d had snow in April. In fact, snow in May isn’t entirely unheard of here. But you’d think that would no longer be the case by now. After all, if Al Gore was to have been believed some twenty years ago, his protege Greta shouldn’t even know what snow is, let alone seen it.

Dude owes me a sweater, is what I’m saying.

At least these masks, as unpleasant and glasses-fogging as they are serve a purpose in this kind of weather: they make very serviceable scarves. Real scarves unknot and fall off my face, but these stay on like they’re supposed to. So I’ll give them that much credit, at any rate.

Okay, side rant over.

Anyway, the main point is, we’re supposed to be getting snow, but I’d made the appointment with your mechanic to drop your car off, and I told myself I was going to walk like the marathon team schedule says to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’d already screwed up my schedule yesterday, so I felt I had to make up for it today. And for all the threats I’d heard last night, nothing was coming down yet – and it isn’t like we never walked in the snow, after all.

And I’m not talking about our round-the-block trips with Chompers, back in the days when he still could walk. No, i’m sure you still remember the time I’m thinking about. I can’t remember what year, or exactly what month it was, but all three of us had that one time when we had no choice but to walk for miles in the snow…

We’d left church after Sparks, just like last night, but we must have stopped at Culvers for a bite to eat. Remember eating out at fast food places, sweetheart? Man, I miss that, and not just because you’re not here to enjoy them with us (although that is a bigger reason than you’ll ever know, honey). The place had that model train that ran along the perimeter of the dining area, just about a foot from the ceiling. Anyway, while we were in there, we’d gotten a fairly heavy dusting of snowfall dropped on us. And for whatever reason, as I attempted to negotiate a turn out onto the road behind the restaurant, and the brakes didn’t lock properly – or maybe they did, but the car didn’t stop. We skidded right into the curb with a fairly loud bump, and after assessing ourselves, we decided to limp home as best we could, and deal with it the next day. After all, what else could we do at that hour of the night?

Only it soon became clear that the car was more crippled than we thought. We’d basically flattened the front passenger side tire (and the hubcap is still damaged to this day), and it was no about to get us home safely, snow or no snow.

We got as far as the Mitsuwa Japanese supermarket parking lot, found a spot far from the entrance, and – after it was clear that Triple-A was not going to be coming any time soon – decided to walk the rest of the way home.

A distance of over three miles.

At night.

In the snow.

Now, it wasn’t exactly a blizzard, but it was flaking pretty significantly. After all, there was enough on the ground from an hours’ worth of accumulation for our car to skid and bang itself up pretty badly against a curb. But we weren’t going to get anywhere any other way, so the three of us bundled up, locked the car up, and trudged home.

I know it wasn’t that long ago, because I recall one or the other of us musing about how Chompers, that poor starving dog, was going to be sooo upset at how late we were going to be returning home. And yes, he did bark quite a bit when we finally made it in at about 11 o’clock or so. But with a good feeding and getting outside to do whatever business he needed to, I think that was more or less papered over in short order.

Now, I don’t remember the rest of the story, as to how we got the car towed to the mechanic’s and got it fixed. I know if happened, and that’s about it. It’s apparently one of those times when memory closes the curtain of charity on the scene before things really get to be a headache. Either that, or you probably dropped me off at work in your car, and took care of all the details on your own. Probably the latter. In which case, I may have forgotten to thank you – or simply forgotten having remembered to thank you. I really don’t know.

All I do remember is trudging those miles, avoiding the worst in slick spots – especially on Wilke Road, where the was no sidewalk alongside the golf course – for I’m what I’m pretty sure was in the neighborhood of an hour and a half.

So yes, we’ve been in worse straits before.

Today was not one of them.

In fact, after dropping the car off this morning around eight, I managed to get home in less than fifty minutes – and that included a stop in at the local grocery for another batch of apple strudel bites for Daniel for breakfast.

It’s still not an ideal pace – 2.8 miles in fifty minutes translates to a marathon time of 7 hours and 47 minutes. If I really mean to do this (and I’m still not entirely sure – although would you believe my Dad is the only person I’ve told about this who isn’t encouraging me to do it?), I need to shave at least an hour off that pace in order to accomplish it before the course closes. But hey, for not having walked like that in so long, I guess it’s not all that bad.

And I still got home before Daniel even woke up – which, by the way, means that Chompers stayed pretty placid the whole time I was gone. Once I got back, though, he promptly woke up and started his whining cycle again. Maybe he gets that there’s no point in complaining when I’m not there – no one’s going to help him if I’m not there. I don’t know.

Now, I should mention that I had a whole letter I was going to (and to be honest, wanted to) write to you about today’s date – Four-Twenty – and what we did and discovered last year together. But I have to confess, I’m not sure it’s entirely appropriate for those that might come by and read these letters. To say nothing of (literally) the first thing I read this morning in Proverbs:

Wine and ·beer make people ·loud [mockers] and ·uncontrolled [carousers; brawlers];
it is not wise to ·get drunk on [be led astray by] them.

Proverbs 20:1, Expanded Bible

Given that hot take, what might Solomon have said about the effects of THC?

So perhaps it’s not time for that recollection. I’ll save it, though; maybe for another year – assuming I’ll make it that far.

Which brings up another, final thought: it’s so strange to think about how alive and vibrant we were together – about how you were, even to the very last day. We never considered living life like it might be our last day, we were just enjoying the moments as they came to us. Why should it have even occurred to us that our time was short? Sure, we’d had reminders of mortality from your folks’ passing, and Dad’s near-death experience, but that was for a generation older than ourselves. Surely, we had time to enjoy everything yet.

Even the misadventures. Maybe especially the misadventures – those are the things that stick out in one’s memory, after all. When things go smoothly, it’s all straightforward and boring, and it all just blurs together. It’s the stuff that goes sideways that gets our attention.

Anyway, I’m trying to remember what I can, while I can, so that anyone else can learn about you – about us – and understand what they’ve missed out on.

Take care, honey. We’ll talk again later.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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