The cover of Destanne Norris’s book, Leah’s Gift, features one of her paintings from 1985, 10 years before the death of her young daughter, Leah. Norris will hold a book signing at Gallery Vertigo in Vernon on Oct. 2 and at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery on Nov. 14. (Contributed)

Vernon author’s book describes how child’s death transforms mother’s life

Destanne Norris to hold book signings in Vernon and Salmon Arm

A book from a Vernon author that revolves around the death of a child is also a celebration of love, of life and its mysteries.

Destanne Norris, who once lived in Salmon Arm, has completed a book 25 years after her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Leah, drowned in the Maligne River near Jasper.

Leah’s Gift: A Story about Reframing Loss, focuses on how such a loss can transform life.

“This is a story that has been growing inside of me for many years and I’m so happy to finally share it with the world. The experience of losing my daughter utterly transformed my life and I hope that in sharing my story I can touch the hearts of others a million times over,” Norris said.

Norris is an established artist whose work is both exhibited and collected. After Leah’s death, she discovered signposts along her life’s path. Fully eight years before Leah was born, Norris, then an undergraduate, had painted a child in the water, a painting which is now on the cover of the book.

At that time she had no idea why, at age 25, she was interested in painting a baby. It remained a mystery until 10 years later when Leah died.

“I was connecting all these dots – things that I said, I did, I wrote, even before she was born. They were like these little signposts…”

Read more: Secwepemc Landmark to be located by entrance to Salmon Arm wharf

Read more: Adams Lake band celebrates long-awaited and much-needed housing

Hours before Leah died, Norris walked through the door with groceries and Leah came down the hallway to see her.

“She looked at me with this look – she had this really weird look in her eyes,” Norris recounts, describing it as a look that chilled her. She asked the nanny if Leah had just woken up and they said no.

“It was so starry-eyed, the clearest, lightest look, other-worldly. It was light,” she said.

Norris said her ex-husband saw the same look about 10 minutes before Leah died.

There is a mysterious dance between past and present, she says, and our earthly existence is shrouded in mystery that is ultimately not ours to know.

But we can live fullest in the moment in faith, in hope and in love, she suggests.

“Life is to be lived. We don’t need to die with our loved ones, we can live the fulfilling, loving life without them.”

Norris did not want her book to come across as a book on grieving, but a way to reframe the challenging questions people may be living with, leading them to positive changes.

“I would love for the reader to feel moved to trust what they know to be true for themselves and to take action in their lives.”

Destanne Norris will be at Gallery Vertigo in Vernon on Friday, Oct. 2, from 4 to 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov 14, Norris will be at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon ArmVernon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Graham Jones of the Green Pub Moose puts the brakes on Ryan Kurbis of the RE Postill & Sons Orphans in Game 2 of the Boston Pizza Hockey League best-of-three championship series Sunday night at Priest Valley Arena. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)
Vernon arena subject of COVID-19 relief grant application

Priest Valley Arena needs upgrades to the ammonia plant; city supports application to provincial program

Heather and Sean Lastik became the owners of Cobbs Bread Bakery’s Vernon franchise Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Contributed)
New owners of Vernon’s Cobs Bread welcome trick-or-treaters

Heather and Sean Lastik want to give parents a safe trick-or-treating destination amid COVID-19

The Vernon Vipers announced they have signed 20-year-old wingers Josh Prokop and Tyler Carpendale Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Allen Douglas photo)
Vernon Vipers add pair of veteran wingers

Team signs former Viper Josh Prokop, gets Tyler Carpendale on loan from Kamloops Blazers

Several police vehicles were seen at the Sagmoen farm on Salmon River Road in Silver Creek on Thursday night, Oct. 29, 2020. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
UPDATE: One person arrested, released following police presence at Sagmoen farm

RCMP were at Silver Creek property where remains of 18-year-old Vernon woman were found in 2017

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Little Seedlings Daycare in Armstrong, located beside Highland Park Elementary School (pictured above). Interior Health confirmed the positive case was present at the daycare on Oct. 22 and 23, 2020. (Google image)
COVID-19 case reported at Armstrong daycare

IH letter says positive case was present at Little Seedlings Daycare Oct. 22 and 23

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A fundraising initiative has been set up to help Mirjana Komljenovic, who has been diagnosed with Hermansky Pudlak Syndome and requires $2,000 a month to cover the costs of her medication. (gofundme.com)
Fundraiser created to help Summerland woman with rare condition

Mirjana Komljenovic requires costly medication to treat Hermansky Pudlak Syndome

Heather Pescada is Ms. Halloween and when COVID threatened to ruin her haunted fun, she got creative, inventing a six foot candy chute at her Summerland, Trout Creek home.
(Peskelly Family Facebook page)
Okanagan Halloween house invents huge candy chute

The six foot chute looks like the snake from Nightmare Before Christmas

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

A GoFundMe page has been launched to assist Frankie and Billie Douglas as Frankie undergoes surgeries related to an illness which leaves her bones brittle. (GoFundMe photo)
Fundraiser supports Shuswap child battling brittle bone disease

A $5,000 goal has been set to assist Billie and Frankie Douglas as Frankie spends time in hospital

Most Read