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)

Former Shuswap resident’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

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

Sprott Shaw College's Lunch with Santa, pictured here at Penticton's 2019 Christmas Parade, will be held virtually this year on Dec. 5. (Western News File)
Penticton Western News Publisher Warren Smith takes a look at the 2020 Best of the South Okanagan supplement appearing in today’s (Wednesday, Oct. 21) paper.
Hot off the Press: The Best of the South Okanagan

Check out Wednesday’s Penticton Western News for winners and favourites

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

Most Read