I see you when you die, never saw you while alive
Before covid I was boxing. It was a fine excercise and I loved being there, nevermind the occasional bleeding nose or purple eye. It was the sport, and we all got it.
There was tremendous ammount of respect between all of us, even the best and theworst. Because we could all see how hard we were training. It was never communicated with words, but with sweat and painful moans. We trained at the most ancient gym in the city, with a coach who knew that flashing muscles and a perfect physique were not as important as having the attitude and heart to keep. Pushing. Forward.
Among us there was Leo. Leo was obese, prone to drinking alcohol and doing drugs. He lived an uncared life, and only started boxing because his best friend wanted to. But quickly we saw he was one of us. He applied, made more of an effort than anyone else. Quit drinking and started on a very strict routine of diet and exercise. Of all the boys he was the one who improved the most. His reflexes were quick and he learned how to charge his punches with power from his weight. Leo was our raising star, the model of how hard work and commitment can change a life.
The pandemic came and destroyed our boxing gym. It also destroyed Leo. One year later he died from two heart attacks, due to complications from the illness.
I feel like I was the second closest person to him in that gym. Our houses were close, he and his best friend would give me a ride at the end of every training. At first we talked about how the training was hard, or some silly stuff that happened. After a while we started talking about our day-to-day, of shit that happened at work, our relationships, stuff like that. We had an end of the year party in a pizzeria after our last training. I sat at his side, it was only natural at that point. We all laughed a lot, had a great time, great memories. Yet, I never saw Leo. Even right there at his side, even looking the guy in the eyes, I never saw him. I only began to see him when I was told he had died.
It happens to us more often than not. We take things for granted. All those details I told you about Leo, I only gave then any thought and reflection after he died. Death shone a light on his life in such a way that life itself had never done. I noticed that he was an easy guy, nice to have around. Gentle and that he loved to laugh.
I remember our last sparring. At the time it was just regular training to me, no big deal. But thinking back, he was always struggling with his insecurities. Leo was a beast of strenght and speed until I landed the first punch. Then the fire was gone, he barelly tried to hit me back, instead ducking behind his guard and dodging for the rest of the combat training. In the end he never had the time to fight and win against himself. And I never bothered to realize all this about him until it was too late to make a difference.
Leo was a victim of his vices, of covid, but specially of the way people see life and death. Life is just life, while death changes everything. It should be the other way around. Maybe then more people would be there for someone else. Maybe I would have been there for Leo.
Rest in peace, my friend. I will forever tell your tales.