Finding Norm…why the name?

It’s fitting that I post a blog this week as we remember Randy on what would have been his 57th birthday. We had this little standing joke between the two of us on his August 9th birthday. It was the day we were the same age, at least for a couple of months. We graduated from high school in the same year, but we were about 9 months apart. He loved to tell others that he married an older woman. A little back and forth battle between husband and wife which always seemed to come up around this time of year.

Randy’s 48th birthday – 2010

I often get the question… “Why the name Finding Norm? Where did you come up with the title for the book?” It was asked so frequently and I found myself answering it differently each time. That was most likely because it has several meanings to me.

Finding Norm in the sense that I needed to find a new life after Randy died. A life that I didn’t want, didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t expect. But as I started writing the book I found myself thinking about “norm” and what that really is in my life. Every day we faced with change and loss, so finding a new norm for most people is a frequent occurrence.

“Norm” on Cheers was an icon for the popular TV sitcom. Norm, a well-known regular at the Cheers Bar…where everybody knows your name, was perched on his stool each and every day. Rain or shine, Norm was there! It was our norm, for Randy and me, to watch this nightly show just after the evening news.

It was funny, lighthearted..and sweet bonding time for our marriage. It was something we looked forward to and could count on. It was our norm.

After Randy died, I found myself unable to go back to watching “Cheers”. Was it that it was too painful to watch and laugh out loud with my Randy not alongside me? Did it lose it’s meaning now that I was watching alone? Did Norm represent too much of my old life that was normal? Predictable? Comfortable? Reliable? Was my norm Randy?

If I’m being honest, it was probably all the above. Losing a spouse has opened my eyes in many ways. One of the more profound experiences has been to rediscover “who is Jana now?”. Her everyday life, her significant moments, her world, her being… as Jana, the widow, a single woman again.

For 28 years, we worked hard to mold ourselves into thinking, acting and being one. Just as God intended…two shall join and become one. That’s how marriage worked for Randy and I. We were best friends. We were soul-mates.

So when a loss takes place, how do you pick up the pieces and try to assemble your life moving forward? How do you “rediscover joy through a season of loss?”

Finding a new life without Randy. A life that had meaning. Purpose. And some sort of normalcy again. That has been the quest…the journey and the desire!

The title for the book speaks to this desire of finding a new norm. A life that keeps the memories of Randy, moves on to more new memories but never, ever forgets where I’ve been, where I am now and a life that gives me hope of what tomorrow may bring.

Change, loss, and grief are inevitable for all of us. Life is just full of change and with that comes potential loss and grief. Finding Norm will leave you with the hope that a new “norm” is possible and worth finding!

Today, August 9th, we remember Randy, who for many years represented my norm. I remember those sweet moments and precious years, while I’m here rediscovering what my new norm is like.

I know how special Randy was to so many, do you have a favorite “Randy moment”? We’d love to hear your stories! Share them below or on our social media as we remember together the amazing man.

Cheers, to you Randy Berndt!

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