As the one-year anniversary of her son’s death approached, Norma Lewis reflected on the life of her son, "Big Norm."
- Deputy Norm Lewis, Lt. Debra Clayton honored 1 year after death
- Norma Lewis wants to continue son's efforts to help others
“It’s been a rough year,” Norma Lewis said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office hosted a service Tuesday at ICP church on Clarcona Ocoee Road in Orlando to remember Deputy First Class Norman Lewis and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, who died in the line of duty Jan. 9, 2017 in a manhunt for Markeith Loyd.
Sheriff Jerry Demings said Tuesday's service was part of the solemn commitment the law enforcement community made a year ago – a commitment to never forget the sacrifice the two law enforcement officers made when they lost their lives.
“These two individuals embodied the type of law enforcement officers we all can be proud of. Their hearts were bigger than their badges,” Demings said.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said their last acts were to think about others.
“Both of them, in the last moments of their lives — the last actions they took — were to protect this community that they loved so much,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
A few days earlier at the Sheriff's Office, Norma Lewis said the approaching anniversary is difficult to process.
“There will be a lot of tears, but I will remember they will be tears of joy,” Lewis said.
“He was happy. He knew he was blessed,” Lewis said. “He was thankful even when he knew the days were not good.”
"A DAY OF CELEBRATION" Norma Lewis, mom of @OrangeCoSheriff Deputy Norman Lewis, speaks about her son, one year after his death. Memorial events continue later today: https://t.co/M61S08tP08 pic.twitter.com/FsRtndc1JQ— News 13 (@MyNews13) January 9, 2018
But just a few months after Norm died, Lewis lost her husband of almost 40 years. She said he died in part because of the grief of losing their son, Norman.
“I’m OK. Every day is a blessed day. I take the good with the bad,” Lewis said.
“I’m just thankful for the 35 years God gave us his angel, and when Norm’s work was done down here, God called him home. So I’m all right with it.”
After her son’s death, Lewis moved to Central Florida. In August, she joined her son’s fellow deputies in dedicating a road named for him.
Sheriff Jerry Demings now speaking at @OrangeCoSheriff's service for Deputy Norman Lewis and Sgt. Debra Clayton. VIDEO of him walking into service with Lewis' mother, Norma moments ago. @MyNews13 @OrangeCoSheriff pic.twitter.com/4IHD2gzZEg— Jeff Allen (@News13JeffAllen) January 9, 2018
She continues to check on young people her son mentored.
“Now that Norm’s not here, a lot of kids are having it kind of hard,” she said.
And she’s urging others to help.
“I’m asking Orlando, please help Orlando in any way you can,” Lewis said. “Keep Norman alive in your heart, your spirit and in doing what you can do.”
She's now focusing on trying to continue her son’s work to help others. Norma Lewis is urging donations to Central Florida C.O.P.S., a nonprofit organization that helps survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, an organization she says has helped her often in this last year.
"As long as I have breath, that’s my mission,” Lewis said.