Ooooh, I forget how cold and unforgiving boxing gloves can be. Someone — maybe Kimberly, our coach — or one of her many volunteers — will help us tighten the straps around each wrist.
But first, there’s some ferocious hugging and greeting to be done. You’d assume that the Rose City Knock-Out Ladies — all of us with our own unique diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease — hadn’t seen each other for more than a day or two.
We laugh and sometimes cry and then we admire each other’s earrings and see if someone has new workout gear. There’s news to share, not always good. Then it’s time to head to the punching bags with the others.
Away from the boxing gym, I suffer small losses all day long. My foot drags. I forget a word, my fingers clench and keep me from typing any faster than a key at a time. I remind myself to stand up, don’t give in to stooping, swing my right arm when I walk. Every day, I fight to do the easiest things: shower, get dressed — don’t get me started on sports bras! — hurry for the bus, and try to balance gracefully if I don’t get a seat. Every day I work at not falling into the laps of strangers.
But in the boxing gym, I’m strong. With gloves on, I hit the bags with everything I have. Call it fighting, call it stress relief, call it major annoyance at this cold and unforgiving disease.
Afterwards, I sometimes need help getting my gloves off. They’re warm and damp inside. I’m dripping with sweat, my face a lovely red. And my heart pounds. I am strong and alive.