I am sitting here on the plane back from Iceland trying to figure out how to put into words what we’ve all been a part of over the last couple of weeks, while trying to maintain the appropriate level of privacy that the whole situation deserves.
With almost no warning, Katrin lost her grandmother suddenly about a week and a half ago. Her beautiful grandmother, who I only know as Amma which is Icelandic for “grandma”, was 73 years old…and, Katrin’s absolute best friend. Actually, “best friend” doesn’t fairly describe the uniqueness of her relationship with her. They were more than best friends; I think of them more like soul mates.
Katrin describes her Amma as “the light within her”. I love that. It’s exactly what she was, and will always be, for Katrin.
Her grandma was truly one of a kind; I have never met anyone quite like her. She had more energy than most 20 year olds do. She was overwhelmingly kind. She was phenomenal at “the little things”. She spoke to and treated everyone she came across like they were a member of her family. When you spoke to her, she hung on your every word like a child listening to a fairy tale. She didn’t do things to draw attention to herself and make a show, but man was she good at drawing a crowd. She was beautiful, elegant, and always looked good enough to go to a royal party. She never complained about anything, but was still able to talk about the bad in a way that was more compassionate and understanding. She was madly in love with her husband, and lived every day with him like they were still teenage love birds.
Katrin’s grandma was so proud. She was proud of the man she was married to. She was proud of her Icelandic culture and heritage. She was proud of her children and grandchildren. She was proud of the job she worked at. She was proud of the friends her and her husband remained committed to and close with since they were young. She was proud of her story.
And, Amma was so proud of her Katrin.
Photos and videos are out there of all the competitions she’s cheered for Katrin at, so if you haven’t seen them you should hunt them down. You’ll get a small glimpse of the fire that burned inside of this stunning woman when her Katrin was on the competition floor. She held nothing back. When you watch her when Katrin is competing, you can see that explosion of emotion that she just didn’t care to suppress even a little bit. She was a lion of a cheerleader for her Katrin.
Her pride for Katrin was so obvious, though, when Katrin was right next to her in her arms. She was always holding her, had her hand on her, and couldn’t take her eyes off of Katrin. Katrin was so incredibly loved by this woman. And, that love was returned right back to her from Katrin. The mutual admiration between these two, the pride they had for one another, and the way they tried to emulate each other is why I am having trouble trying to compare what they had to anyone or anything else out there in the world.
It just doesn’t exist.
My own personal experience with Amma and getting to know her more beyond the morning FaceTime sessions we would have with her whenever Katrin was staying with us happened last August when we went out to Iceland to visit Katrin and her family.
The flight from Boston to Iceland gets you there at 4 AM, and when we arrived that morning, Katrin was standing at the entrance to the airport waiting for us so we didn’t have to rent a car. What we didn’t realize until later that day was Katrin likely had to wake up around 3 AM in order to make the drive to the airport and be there in time for our flight to land. And, like her Amma, she was dressed and looking good enough for a Reebok photo shoot and had an enormous smile on her face. She never complained, in fact she was just so ecstatic that we were there.
When we arrived at her home that she lives in with her grandparents, she said that we were welcome to sleep in her grandparents’ bed so we could catch up with their time zone since they’re 4 hours ahead of ours. When we asked where her grandparents were, she casually told us that they were sleeping in her bed and that she was going to sleep on the couch until morning.
As you can already imagine, we woke up at 10 AM to a full breakfast spread with hot coffee, eggs, fresh fruit…and, a new set of grandparents of our own. These two people immediately started hugging and kissing us and thanking us for taking such good care of their Katrin. They couldn’t stop themselves.
We spent the morning looking at photos of their family, admiring the beautiful artwork on the walls that I fell in love with, and listening to their stories about their beloved Iceland that they are so in love with.
After that morning, we ended up staying in a beautiful boutique hotel that Katrin had put us up in, but we were able to see her grandparents a few more times during our stay.
The night before we left, her grandparents invited us over for dinner at their home which would also give us a chance to meet her mother and her little brother.
When we first arrived, though, Amma held my arm and said, “I have a gift I would like to give you.”
She walked Ben and I into her bedroom where, laying on the bed, were two prints from the same artist that she had hanging on the walls of their home that I had fallen in love with that first day we arrived. Turns out she had her husband drive her to the artist’s house where she knocked on the door, asked him for the prints, and had him personally sign them for us with our names and everything.
I was both overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity, but not surprised by any of it because that is exactly what you would expect from this woman: the most thoughtful, meaningful, perfect gift you could ever imagine receiving. She barely knew us, but she knew us enough to know what would be the perfect gift that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
The morning Katrin’s grandma passed away, I had breakfast with her and talked with her about what was going on in her head.
Katrin said to me, “I just wish everyone could meet her and know what she was like.”
I smiled through the tears that are rebuilding in my eyes as I write this, and told her, “Katrin, everyone will know her through you.”
If you know Katrin Davidsdottir, you know her Amma. A lot of people on this planet know Katrin because of her accomplishments in CrossFit, her Instagram posts, and her Snapchats.
But, if you know Katrin as a person you know that she, too, is one of a kind. And, in all the same ways that I described her Amma to be one of a kind.
Katrin truly is a representation of all of the things that she has learned from her grandma. She has more energy than any 20 year old I know. She is overwhelmingly kind. She is phenomenal at “the little things”. She speaks to and treats everyone she comes across like they are a member of her family. When you speak to her, she hangs on your every word like a child listening to a fairy tale. She doesn’t do things to draw attention to herself and make a show, but she sure is good at drawing a crowd. She is beautiful, elegant, and always looks good enough to go to a royal party…well, maybe a royal Reebok party. She never complains about anything, but is able to talk about the bad in a way that is more compassionate and understanding.
And, when the time is right, Katrin will fall madly in love with her soul mate and live every day with him like they are teenage love birds.
And, slowly but surely, all of those people that never got to meet Amma will get to know her through Katrin.
If there’s one thing we all know about Katrin Davidsdottir, it’s that she is a woman of fierce determination, discipline, and commitment. When this woman commits to something that she believes in and is passionate about, she stays laser focused and always makes it happen.
And, this is no different than anything else. It’s just another test that will prove to all of us who Katrin, and her grandma, are.