The 2018 Winter Olympics, are officially over, and I have no idea what to do with myself.
I make no secret of the fact that I am an Olympics junkie. I’ve been watching both the Winter and Summer Games religiously since Atlanta in 1996 (Magnificent Seven 4Ever!), but my full-blown obsession began in 2002. That year, thanks to a little Canadian pairs skating magic to the score of a little movie called Love Story, 13-year-old Katie fell into the kind of love that lasts well beyond two weeks and even well beyond four years. Sixteen years later, I’m still staying up way past my bedtime to watch Canadians tell love stories on the ice and win gold medals in the process.
There have been plenty of memorable Winter Olympics moments since those Games 16 years ago, but none completely captivated me the way the moments of these Games did. It seemed that every night, something happened that made me cry on my couch from the pure joy of watching someone achieve a dream, make an incredible comeback, or live out what felt like a chapter of a fairytale.
If these Olympics felt special to me, maybe it was because of that fairytale element—and maybe it was because we all could really use some fairytales right now. There were so many moments during these Games where it felt like even Disney couldn’t make up a story more inspiring or compelling than the one playing out in real time right in front of us. Night after night, we were treated to scenes that made us believe—even just for a moment—that good things can still happen amid all the bad things we’ve grown accustomed to seeing all around us. For two weeks, the athletes at these Olympics gave us something fun to talk about and to tweet about; it was such a welcome change of pace to scroll through Twitter and see excitement, joy, and hope instead of the usual dread, anger, and pessimism that the world we’re living in seems to generate in overwhelming quantities.
When I look back at these Olympics, I’ll remember the happy endings, and I’ll remember the stories of the work that made those happy endings possible.
I’ll remember the tears of relief shed by the pairs skater in her fifth Olympics, finally bringing home the gold medal that eluded her for 16 years.
I’ll remember the beautiful sounds of a national anthem sung by a team of curling “rejects” who found Olympic glory.
I’ll remember the screams of the announcers as a pair of skiers crossed the finish line and gave their country its first gold medal in the sport.
I’ll remember the determination in the eyes of a young figure skater who saw his gold-medal dreams disappear but got back up and landed six quads the next day to prove to the world and himself that he was a fighter.
I’ll remember the simple beauty of a snowboarder kissing his boyfriend, showing his true self to the world and reminding us all that love is love is love is love.
I’ll remember the married pairs skaters whose joy at being alive, being together, and being bronze medalists was so tangible it felt like you could reach through the screen and wrap it around you like a blanket.
I’ll remember the shouts of joy after the successful landing of a triple axel by a woman who didn’t make the Olympic team four years ago.
I’ll remember the overwhelming pride felt in each second a brother and sister shared on the ice, having their best skate in their biggest moment.
I’ll remember the radiant smiles on the faces of two ice dancers as they realized the love story they fought to tell on their own terms was about to have a happy ending.
And I’ll remember the sight of a group of women who fought to be treated fairly standing together with gold medals around their necks, a new image to inspire little girls after 20 years of waiting for this moment.
These are the moments I’ll replay in my mind when the world gets dark and hope seems hard to find. They are the moments that reminded us all that with belief, perseverance, and the right people beside you, sometimes good things really can happen. Sometimes the heroes win. Sometimes the ending is a happy one. But it never happens accidentally. It happens because you work for it. It happens because you try—even when it’s hard, even when you fall, and even when it seems the world wants you to give up and walk away.
That’s what the Olympics have been teaching me since I was a little girl, and that’s what these Winter Olympics reignited in my heart. There are golden moments out there for all of us. They have to be fought for, but they’re worth the fight.
What were your favorite moments of the 2018 Winter Olympics? Share them with us in the comments!