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Later on that same week, Chase found himself at the Earnhardt household once again. He had just finished some joking around with Alyssa and brought her inside for the night. As he makes his way through the house after leaving the little girl with her mother, he catches Dale in the midst of one of his exercises that he had to do.
He had heard about the list of exercises, ranging from shooting balls in a hoop to walking back and forth with an eye card, to turning the lights out and make it like a disco. Some of them he had to admit sounded ridiculous, however he totally understood the reasoning behind them once he heard about what they each did.
As he watched Dale, he couldn’t help but think of the risks that they took each time they stepped behind the wheel. Was it worth it? That was an answer his mind quickly answered. He knew the thrill of speed, competition, and winning overcame every other thought that crossed his mind as a racer.
He watched as Dale started to stumble back a bit, immediately moving over to grab him and help steady him.
“Woah, easy….” Chase gently says as he makes sure Dale is back up and steady before letting him go. “And this is why you should have someone with you at all times while doing these.” Dale then lets out a sigh as he sets the card down on the table, before sitting down on the couch.
“It’s called these ones are outside of the normal time frame of when I’m supposed to be doing them with Marie,” he starts. “I got bored sitting here basically doing nothing so I thought I’d try and speed up the recovery process.” Chase understood the theory and reasoning as he sat down beside Dale, but knew the logic side of it, too.
“I know you’re impatient and I know you hate this. Anybody would hate this, to be honest. But you need to give it time and let it heal properly. Rushing it won’t do you any good.” Dale then looks at his young teammate with a glance of surprise.
“How did you become so smart?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, not quite sure himself. It probably did with his upbringing, though. “And aren’t those the same words that I used on you last year but yet you shrugged me off and still wanted to go racing?”
“That was my leg, and I know better than anyone how that was feeling as it’s attached to my body. This is your brain, and since you only get one brain and it’s very crucial for the rest of your life, you should take good care of it.” Dale knew his teammate was right in those words of advice. However, it wasn’t like he wanted to listen to them as he wanted this process done immediately.
“I guess you’re right, as much as I hate to admit it. I’m just annoyed. I just want to feel normal again. I just want everything to go back to the decent spot in life where it was. I just want to be able to see straight, think straight, do what I love to do. I also don’t want to screw up the wedding, either.” Chase understood the fears, and wondered himself whether everything would work itself out by the time the wedding happened.
“No matter what you won’t screw up the wedding. That girl is head over heels for you, and all that matters is that you love each other. If that’s true, than you can’t screw up the wedding no matter how hard you try.” Dale smiles as he was glad to have Chase to call a friend. “Now, other than that stumble, how are the exercises?”
“Can we stop talking about me, and hear you sing instead?” Chase shakes his head no as there was no way he was letting his teammate hear that. “To be honest, they’re going alright. There’s still a lot of stumbling and issues at times, but I can see the progress every little bit slowly. It’s slower than I want, but there’s some progress. I just….I’m impatient, I guess.”
“Stubborn, hardheaded, not willing to listen, impatient – yep, that’s you when something isn’t going your way to a T.” Dale just rolls his eyes as he looks away from Chase. “Well, at least there’s some progress, though, and you have the belief from the doctors that it’ll all be fine. Now just focus on that one step at a time and you’ll be fine.”
“Speaking of that, how are you doing?” Chase then looks over confused, but immediately realizes the base of the question, which brings out a dreadful sigh. “Really?”
“I want to say that I’m moving through each day as if nothing happened, but that’s a lie. I still have the odd nightmare, and I still have the odd flashback. I also have a couple other feelings mix in there once in awhile. That said, it is getting better as well in speaking with the therapist and working on things to help me.” Dale felt some comfort in that as he knew how much Chase has struggled with things back and forth since everything took place.
“That’s good. I’m glad to hear that. Just remember to keep working at it, know that you’re going to be okay, and keep your friends close. Our constant questions as to whether you’re okay or not may get annoying, but it’s because we care.” Chase knew that as he only looked over with a smile.
“Now do you see where I’m coming from?” Dale lets out a sigh.
“Yeah, I do. Thanks for caring, and being there. Oh, and thanks for watching the kids at times for Marie and I. We appreciate it a lot.” The thanks weren’t needed for Chase, though, as he equally enjoyed the time with them.
“Your girls are amazing, Dale. You don’t have to thank me. Besides, they’re nice distraction at times from everything else.” Dale knew the meaning behind those words from how the season had gone at times.
“You can never come home mad from a bad day at the track when you’ve got those two girls smiling at you.”