|Photo courtesy of Lexi Rohner|
Out of many years in this sport, I’m hard pressed to remember exactly when I met Susan. It may have been in Cleveland in 2009 or Spokane in 2010. But the first one that clearly comes to mind was that next year.
Out of many glasses of wine over the many years of attending competitions together, I remember one in particular in Greensboro. It was 2011 and the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed our US Team on their way to Prague for Worlds in 1961. As busy as she was, Susan found me in the overcrowded room, gave me a kiss and said, “Thank you for being here,” as if my presence among the multitudes of honorees and officials was something of which to take note.
Out of many, one of the other times was at Skate America in 2014. I was using a cane after doing something to my knee. Though my memory is sketchy, Susan had just gone through something with her back. We joked about “getting older.”
But, out of many, one of the most impactful memories I have was the time Susan asked my husband and me to speak to Friends of Figure Skating members in 2014 – Olympic Nationals in Boston - about our experiences as skating parents.Actually, whatever Susan asked me to do, I gladly did. She was that kind of irrepressible force for this occasionally immovable object. Afterwards, a package arrived at our home. It was a beautifully engraved cutting board inscribed with our names and a thank you on the back. It was totally unexpected. It was a treasure then and is a poignant reminder now - not only of her, but of spirit and graciousness.
We all missed the opportunity to be together in 2020 with the pandemic, but plans were in the works for a grand reunion. Just weeks ago, we were messaging back and forth about the upcoming US National Championships in Nashville. More than simply being where the 2022 Olympic Team will be named, it was more about finally being able to get everyone together again under one roof to once again share our love of a sport that has brought us so much.
Out of many memories I have from all these years, the one thing for which I am most grateful - besides her unwavering friendship - is that Susan brought me an on-going dedication to helping support our athletes in every way possible. Her enthusiasm was contagious; her focus unwavering. Her dedication unquestionable. What a gift she shared with us.
There is a hole in our hearts right now. It will be there for a long time to come. But we will take the lessons Susan taught us and move them forward with the devotion and passion that were her trademarks. While we will not be privileged to bask in her enormous presence, see that smile and twinkle in her eye, or hear that always present laugh, we will know she’s there with us. She will always be there because Susan brought so many of us with her on this journey. Out of the many she touched, there will always be one light that will not be extinguished. It shines on all of us from having had Susan in our lives. She was one in a million.
Rest well, my friend.