VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Over the last year, each step of the amazing love story between a Virginia Beach veteran, Norwood Thomas, and his girlfriend from World War II, Joyce Durrant, has been chronicled by WTVR-TV.
The latest update is not a happy one, however. Exactly one week ago Friday, Joyce died.
"Joyce was my first great love," said Norwood through tears. "When we reunited, the old feelings rejuvenated. I had a wonderful trip to Australia and was looking forward to another one, but it didn't happen."
Joyce's death comes a little more than a year after Norwood and Joyce reconnected on Skype. According to Joyce's son, she suffered a heart attack in November. Although across the world in Australia, Norwood did whatever he could to make sure he was still by Joyce's side.
"She had a phone right by her bed and I could talk to her there," Norwood explained.
After weeks of fighting, Joyce died at the age of 89. As Norwood grieves the loss of his first great love, he can't help but feel lucky. In Joyce's final year he was able to reconnect with her after more than 70 years apart. First on Skype, then in person.
"It was probably the greatest event in my life that finally came true."
While the devastation he feels now is overwhelming, he says the pain proves just how meaningful their love for each other was, even after all these years.
"To me it was the best experience that I have ever had. It's hard to sit here and explain to people my emotions and how I felt and how I do feel but it was wonderful."
Without Joyce in his life, Norwood says he will rely on their time spent together to keep him going. Specifically the memories they made on his visit.
"We went down to Horseshoe Bay and we took walks down there."
In order to pay tribute to his love, Joyce, Norwood hopes to purchase a bench on the side of a path they walked along during his visit.