We had tryouts this weekend at LRMA for the USA Teams to compete in England this spring.  It took courage to travel to Little Rock to try out for the team.  It took warrior spirit to make it through the try out, it was intense to say the least.  For those who made the team, there was a two hour work out that evening, and another five hours the next day. And that is just the beginning of the training that will take place to get ready for the international competition.

We will travel across the ocean to face unknown opponents.  We will have done thousands of repetitions, logged hundreds of miles of cardio, pushed ourselves mentally and physically, to get ready for a few short minutes in the ring.  The judges will make a decision, and it’s done.  Win or lose, we will come back knowing more about ourselves. Win or lose, we will come back to our lives, to the “real world”.  But we will come back.

I’ll go see my friend Benita today.  It will probably be the last visit. The time of her death is very near.  Here is a link to what I wrote in April of 2009 about her.

Her battle with cancer continued throughout 2009.  It will end within the next few days.

I went to see her on a Sunday January 17, a little over a week ago.  It was a beautiful day, she had the door open so that she could see the sun outside, but she also had a fire going in the fireplace.  She sat in a chair, bundled in blankets, pictures of her daughter and her family and friends arranged on the table in front of her.  She had lost so much weight I almost didn’t recognize her.  Her face was drawn, I’m sure from the pain.  Yet her eyes lit up when she saw us, and her smile was authentic.

We talked, and I brought her up to date on the events in my life.  I probably babbled a bit, trying to find positive things, humorous antidotes to tell her, so that I could see her smile.  You know, when you meet with friends, there is a give and take in the conversation.  You ask about their life, you tell them about yours.  I found myself trying to fill the time telling Benita about my life, because I didn’t want to hear about hers.  But finally, I had to ask.

There was an acceptance this time.  She has confounded the doctors many times in the last few years.  We have been told “this is it”, and then she has clawed and fought her way back from the brink.  It’s not going to happen this time, and she knows it.

She was waiting, that Sunday afternoon, for daughter to home so that they could have “the talk”.  Monday she would go back to the hospital. She knew she would not be coming back home.

How do you find the words to tell your 8 year old daughter that you are dying?

Puts some things in prospective, doesn’t it?

This 42 year old woman who has never put on a martial arts uniform has been such an example of courage and warrior spirit to me.   How very fortunate I am to have known her, to have learned from her.

As we get ready for England I’ll be thinking about Benita.  Her name will be embroidered on my jacket.  The pain of training?  Nothing compared to what she has gone through.  My time in the ring will be a few short moments, she has endured a painful battle for years.  Her grace and spirit leave me in awe.

We hugged as I left.  Told each other “I love you”.    There really was nothing else to say.

Love You Girl.  God Bless

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