Published March 13, 2018
This past week, one of my best, long-time friends died. Her move to Heaven has created a void in my life, but I'll see her again. Let me tell you the story of our journey through a tribute to Norma Jean...
"Remembering Norma Jean"
In January, 1976, I moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to start a new job. It was at Eastern Mennonite College as secretary to the campus pastor. One morning, that first week of classes, I attended the morning chapel service. When the service ended, a lady approached me and started talking. I had no idea who she was. And, she had mistaken me for my sister. That was the start of a great friendship with Norma Jean.
During the year and a half I served at the college, we did everything together. I was her relief from studies. She was my encourager. She always told me I got her into trouble. But, really, Norma Jean was the one who had the ideas and then pushed me to fulfill them. She was always right beside me, laughing and enjoying life. Norma Jean had a great capacity to enjoy life without regard to where she was or what the circumstances were. Her outlook was positive.
Norma Jean didn't see strangers. She saw friends she hadn't yet met. And she was a friend to everyone. It didn't matter if they were rich or poor or young or old. She cared about them all.
She rejoiced with me when I got married and when the children came along. She truly knew how to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.
Norma Jean's job decisions were not about making money. They were about serving people. They were about caring for people of all ages. She served in some poor areas and was happy to do so. The littlest ones always had her heart.
Just a few weeks ago, I sent Norma Jean a little ceramic frog. I know she got my message. During those college days, I told her that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. She remembered that through all the passing years and she finally met her prince when Dan came along later in life. She was so happy to have a male friend and lover to share her life. I am so glad Dan was with Norma Jean through the good times, and especially through the difficult last days and weeks and months.
I never doubted that Norma Jean knew the Lord. He was a part of her life the entire time I knew her. So, I plan to see her again. In fact, when I go through the gates of heaven, she'll be there to welcome me. No weak legs, no trouble breathing, and her speech will be clear. When she sees me, she'll have that sweet innocent little grin on her face and I'll know she has some scheme dreamed up, trying to get me in trouble in heaven.
Norma Jean, you got there first. Be assured, I'll join you in God's time. Just think, we have all of eternity to celebrate.
- Shelia Heil
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