Stories that go viral often have a short shelf life. One minute everyone is talking about it and then the next they’ve moved on.
For most stories we may never know how the story ends, but a recent update to a viral moment from 2016 has brought a smile to our faces.
In 2016, 4-year-old Norah asked 82-year-old Dan Peterson for a hug and they went viral.
It all began when Norah Wood and her mother, Tara, were at the grocery store.
“Hi, old person, it’s my birthday today!” Norah said as she reached out to Dan Peterson as the two passed each other at the end of the canned vegetable aisle.
The 82-year-old had been going through an extremely difficult time; just six months earlier his wife passed away and he was struggling to find the will to live.
Then he met Norah.
Their story was picked up by multiple media outlets, but shortly after everyone seemed to move on.
After the two exchanged hugs, they went their separate ways, but it wouldn’t be the last time they saw each other.
Norah and her mother visited with Peterson—Norah calls him Mr. Dan—a few days after their encounter, and now, a year and a half later, the two are still best buddies.
“She’s wholly invested in him,” Tara told CBS Evening News. “She can’t remember her life before him.”
Norah and Peterson’s friendship has lasted well beyond the lifespan of their initial viral hug.
Since they first met, Norah, along with her 2-year-old sister Marigold, and their mother have visited Peterson at least once a week at his home.
They’ve also invited Peterson over their home for Thanksgiving and he’s attended several of the Wood’s children’s birthday parties—Tara has seven children.
Peterson has even attended several important Wood family events.
Most recently, Peterson watched his best friend graduate from pre-school.
“It’s remarkable,” Tara said of her daughter’s relationship with Peterson. “I think a lot of people thought that it wouldn’t continue, but they’re pure magic.”
The love they have for each other is 100 percent real.
Sometimes when an image goes viral, you can’t help but wonder, did they do it for the ‘gram? But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Norah and Peterson’s unique friendship.
Peterson recalled a moment when Norah came to visit him.
“I couldn’t get her to let go,” Peterson said.
It had taken him a little longer than usual to answer the door, and when he finally opened it, the little girl was relieved. Her friend was alright.
“Every time I see you, I get happy.”
I’m not sure what she was thinking about but while we were sitting on Dan’s back porch, Norah started crying. Mr. Dan asked her what was the matter. “Nothing. I just love you a lots” she said. Here’s a little video of the two of them being precious:
Posted by Norah and Mr. Dan on Monday, April 2, 2018
“I didn’t expect our relationship with Mr. Dan to evolve the way it has, but the universe has a way of gifting us with people we didn’t know we needed until we can’t imagine life without them,” Tara wrote in 2017. “Sometimes those ‘people gifts’ become your family.”
Norah and Peterson are still friends today and Tara shares photos of the two on a Facebook page dedicated to their adorable friendship.