It was one of those "where were you when" moments. Where were you when you heard the news that Roger Federer was retiring from tennis?
We were in a small coach coming down the hill from the iron cross on day four of our Camino de Santiago walk.
I was asleep and Sue was sitting behind me and said, “Oh, no."
"What?" I asked.
I thought somebody had died. Somebody hadn't but it felt like somebody had. Federer was moving on and we weren't going with him.
For Sue and millions like her, Roger was like Bruce Springsteen. There were other stars, but these two were born to fly. If their feet touched the ground, they hardly made a sound.
Federer is what grace looks like, living sculpture, athletic beauty, perfect coordination and preternatural timing. Elegance, a description better suited to dancers than tennis players.
He was one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen, up there with Michael Jordan.
In addition to the ease of his lateral movement and picture perfect hand-eye coordination, you can tell a tennis player is a great athlete by how he or she hits a backhand overhead, which is a combination of jumping ability, strength and balance.
Nobody hit a prettier backhand overhead than Federer.
Federer gave his fans their greatest highs and greatest disappointments with his matches or wars with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Their matches were epic. Federer didn't always win but he won enough, and the ones he lost became part of his lore, too.
Federer's announcement a couple of weeks ago that he would retire after the Laver Cup in London, the scene near some of his greatest matches at Wimbledon, was typical Federer.
Decisive, no waffling, no long lead-up and no turning back. The idea that he might reverse course and unretire seems almost impossible, although Federer spent a career making the impossible seem possible.
"Almost impossible" because Federer appears uncannily practical and self aware. At 41, after a couple of years of knee problems, he didn't think he could return to the level at which he has played since he was 21, when he won Wimbledon and his first major. He loves tennis but the idea of trying to climb the mountain again seemed formidable.
His next move includes being home more with his wife, Mirka, and two sets of twins — two boys and two girls. Like most of us, Federer seems slightly bewildered by the challenges of being a parent and at peace with hanging on for dear life especially as his children move into the teenage years.
Playing championship tennis is way easier than raising kids, he has said.
We're with you, Roger. We'll see you on the other side, and something tells me you'll make it look as easy as your backhand overhead. If not, welcome to parental imperfection.
After his match at the Laver Cup, Federer talked about feeling complete, but not in the way that most retiring athletes might: "I lost my last singles match. I lost my last doubles match. I lost my voice from screaming and supporting the team. I lost the last time as a team.
"I lost my job, but I'm happy. That's the ironic part, is everybody thinks about happy fairy-tale endings, you know? Actually it ended up being that but in a way that I never thought was going to happen."
Who says that, means that and has that sort of insight in a transitional moment? That list is not big. Lou Gehrig's on it, maybe some others, but I can't think of them right now.
Count us lucky. Sue and millions like her. She is grateful and I am, too.