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 KTLA sister station WTVR in Richmond.
The latest update is not a happy one, however. Exactly one week ago Friday, Durrant died.
"Joyce was my first great love," Thomas said 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."
Durrant's death comes a little more than a year after Thomas and Durrant reconnected on Skype. According to Durrant's son, she suffered a heart attack in November. Although across the world in Australia, Thomas did whatever he could to make sure he was still by Durrant's side.
"She had a phone right by her bed and I could talk to her there," Thomas explained.
After weeks of fighting, Durrant died at the age of 89. As Thomas grieves the loss of his first great love, he can't help but feel lucky. In Durrant's final year he was able to reconnect with her after more than 70 years apart. The two first spoke on Skype after Durrant's son found Thomas' contact information online, then Thomas followed up with a trek to Australia.
"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 Durrant in his life, Thomas 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, Thomas hopes to purchase a bench on the side of a path they walked along during his visit.