Small Deaths

That last post: sorry about the teaser. I was unable to write more because

(a) I had recently been hit in the head a bunch of times
(b) I had trouble accepting the fact that being hit is part and parcel of my newly-chosen sport
(c) I didn't know what to make of a particular three-minute round.

The context: a 7-week boxing class culminating in Fight Night--a reward, of sorts, for having learned our basic punches the previous weeks. Yes, you read that right: we learned how to punch, but nary a defensive move was taught. We punched affable heavy bags or mitts, inanimate objects with no intention of fighting back. The first time I took the class, Fight Night consisted of some light jabs and punches thrown under strict supervision. A very controlled environment. I figured Thursday would be the same.

The first round saw a class regular matched up against his brother, a Golden Gloves boxer in his day. They knew what they were doing. A nice, solid three-minute round.

Next up: my young friend Phil against another young guy. Phil used to get picked on a lot, and his street fighting experience served him well here. He did a fine job; the other guy, with no skill set to speak of, just held his own and tried to make it through the three minutes.

Then Emily points at me and curls her finger. Here we go. Mouthguard in; someone puts the headgear on, fixes my ponytail. Gloves on. GG Guy watches the clock. We're going for three minutes, and as I'll soon find out, this is nothing like last time.

We face each other. Someone has to throw a punch, so I go for it, and this is all part of the plan. Emily takes a few, and as she'll tell me later, she's watching to see what I do. Apparently I drop my guard slightly after throwing my jab--at chin level instead of above it. And Emily, who I hear has won the GG a few times, saw the opening and took it. Right hook to my head. Hard. I punch back and she does it again. Hard. Damnit.

I try different things--again, I have no real resources to draw from, but I'm being hit, and that's motivation right there. I parry the punches coming directly at me. I see she's giving me some openings; I get a couple right hooks to her body.

But let me stop right here and explain how difficult that is to do. You've got someone in front of you whose gloves are probably up in front of her face. Gloves are big bulky things, and in order to get around to her head or body, you have to reach far. When you do, you leave yourself momentarily off balance and open. There are moves you learn to help you while in this position, but like I say, I don't know them yet.

And as the minutes pass, I take more hard hooks to the head and ribs. Last time, Emily banged me up a bit, but as a formality; this time, she was throwing real punches, or at least the hardest hits I've ever felt. I'm taking them--not falling over--but I'm not happy about it, and the thinking kicks in. She's right there, but what do I do? I face her and I know she's going to get me, so I stop making the first move. I also try to avoid the trap of standing there and taking a bunch of punches, so I attempt to get out of the way, but I'm not hitting back during the escape. "Jab out!" someone yells, so I try that. Eventually, though you think it never will, time runs out.

After my round, Emily matched herself against the other woman in the class. Tap, tap. Easy does it. There you go.

I'm spooked by what was a controlled but essentially unfair situation, though I know I did respectably well given that I didn't know anything about anything. My endurance held up for three minutes, and that alone is worthy of celebration. I took some hard hits and did something a lot of people wouldn't. That's all I know for sure.

What really knocked the wind out of me was something that happened earlier in the day. My son had brought home a donut from school; kids are always bringing in birthday treats, and Theo brings his home so that we can calculate his insulin dose. Rather than take a trip to the office for a shot and miss the birthday celebration in its entirety, he has a lollipop in class while others eat special treats. A shame, but he's fine with it.

He brings the donut home and sets it on the kitchen counter. I'm at the table searching CalorieKing for Krispy Kreme. Chocolate glazed, chocolate iced glazed? I look over at Theo. He's been turning the donut around, comically acting as if this sugar-filled experience will be the highlight of his life, when some icing gets on his fingers.

He brings a finger to his mouth and stops. He remembers his diabetes.

I read in a blog once that when one woman learned her daughter had diabetes, the thought that they couldn't taste the cookie dough together while baking cookies bothered her a great deal. (An insulin pump will make moments like these more manageable, but we're not there yet.)

I couldn't fully understand the woman's concern until Thursday. That moment was harder to take than any hook to the head. It caught my breath worse than the blows my body would take that evening.

When life deals blows like these, you'd think we wouldn't go looking for more elsewhere. Yet there's an element of Thursday night that has me thinking if I can take punches like that and keep standing, I can handle anything that comes this way.


  1. Keep STANDING! That's all we can do honey. Some days I do it better than others.

  2. what a great post. i am both amazed and inspired by your strength. i think i would have cried, at least a little but more likely a lot, in both situations. your blog seems like such a great outlet for you. i love it.

  3. What an incredible woman and mom you are. You inspire me.


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