NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Last week, North Little Rock Police Officer Tommy Norman announced the shocking death of his 26-year-old daughter, Alyssa.
Norman opened up about her death, the legacy he hopes for her to leave behind, and what others can take away from her story.
"Alyssa is a beautiful young lady who I was fortunate enough to call my daughter. She always got her way with me. She knew to come to me if she wanted something. You know when you have a little girl and she grows up, she's still your little girl," Norman said.
Although Norman told us his daughter has struggled with addiction over the last 4-5 years, she was known for bringing light to her whole family's life with positivity.
As a little girl, she would sit on his lap and whisper in his ear, "Tommy Norman," which would make him laugh.
Norman said Alyssa was a giver. She liked to make people smile and laugh.
She played volleyball, basketball, and softball when she was younger and was an active member of her community.
She was obsessed with the burgers from the Purple Cow in Little Rock.
"She would often take her French fries and dip it in the purple shake, which actually wasn't that bad," said Norman.
Alyssa was selfless.
Norman said she often spoke about other people before she'd talk about herself. She put others before herself.
“You always hear people say that it won't happen to them. Well, it's happened to us. To me. It doesn't really seem real at the moment, because Alyssa is still supposed to be here," he said.
"We weren't always close. Sometimes, you know, when you are struggling with certain demons in life, sometimes it can pull you away from your loved ones," Norman said.
A few months ago, she shared her testimony of overcoming those struggles at the Harbor Home in Conway, a non-profit that helps women overcome addiction.
Back in August, she was baptized.
Norman said she wrote him a letter to reconnect.
"When our relationship reconnected, the first day that we reconnected was at church. I surprised her. I showed up that day and we hugged each other and we cried," Norman said.
Alyssa is part of the thousands of Americans who have struggled.
During the pandemic last year—over a 12-month span— 100,000 Americans died from overdoses.
It's still a shock to Norman who remembered her with family and friends at a visitation Tuesday.
"Being a public servant, you devote your life to making other people happy, and being there for other people in times of sorrow, and what I'm dealing with personally is just not being able to let these emotions out. I know that the grieving process comes in time," Norman.
But it's been an outpouring of support from all over the globe that's helped Norman cope.
Norman said he wants his daughter's legacy to be a reminder for people to be nice to others and to go out and make a difference every single day.
To smile, and be happy.
To let your spirit be known.
"You don't quit. Maybe you're knocked into this corner and you're pushed down," he said.
"You have to get up and keep fighting."
Alyssa Norman will be laid to rest Wednesday in a private ceremony for just close family members and loved ones.
Officer Norman is asking people in the area to visit the Purple Cow since it was Alyssa's favorite restaurant.