Having lost a son to death, I understand the grief a parent has in losing a child. Having lost my parents, best friend and a daughter-in-law I understand that pain. And, having lost friends in Viet Nam, still another part of death is all to familiar to me.
Then, when the tragic van accident happened and we lost Normi yet another aspect of death struck home, the loss of someone who made a huge difference in so many other lives. She was a friend to friends, an inspiration to strangers and a constant volunteer to help others. Despite struggling with her own identity she helped others find a light of hope and offered support with her words and actions that were so authentic, right from her beautiful heart.
She and I had many conversations, my favorite one being about her faith decision to be baptized. Little did I know at the time that we provided her a pathway to heaven that would solve that identity crisis, but would also leave such a huge void in our recovery community. If you come into an ATB meeting on any day, you will still see her favorite chair reserved for her, and her pictures hanging on our tree for all seasons.
When she passed there was a tremendous outpouring of loss in our community for her, one that if she were present would have overwhelmed her with love that she felt was sometimes missing in her life. She would have been thrilled that so many loved her for being Just Normi.
Now she knows, and now her life really counts for something way beyond what she would have ever imagined. And I promise you she is volunteering for something in heaven, bugging God much like she always bugged me to serve. In fact I will bet that she becomes his forever Recovery Angel.
Farewell Normi, that empty chair can never fill your void, but it reminds us of the void you helped fill for so many others!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.