DescriptionRaven Norris (20) and her father Jerry Norris (53) talk about his other daughter Daniella, who passed away from a drug overdose, and explore how her death has affected both their lives.
- Jerry Norris
- Raven Norris
Recording LocationsThe Fledge
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00:01 I'm Jerry Norris. I'm 53 years old. It's November 13th 2019. I'm at the fledge in Lansing Michigan and I'm talking to my daughter. My name is Raven Norris. I'm 20 years old. It's 11 1319. I'm at the fledge Lansing Michigan and I am his daughter.
00:25 So what is your last memory that you have of Daniela my last memory of Daniela when she was alive is when I walked into the emergency room at sparrow and that whole three days that we were with her when she was on life support and really
00:47 Being with their that whole time and being with the family and seeing her hooked up to all of those tubes my last memory of her when she had already been taken off from life support was when we went into the basement to identify her at the funeral home and to take one last look at her.
01:12 Before the accident. What is your last memory of her and are you happy with how the last interaction with her face-to-face went?
01:25 I guess my last memory before she overdosed was that you know, we were talking on the phone. We were always making plans for the future. We were talking about, you know, if there was any potential for her to ever see the grandkids again and you know, it was always trying to be positive with Daniella. She was you know, mostly always happy and always smiling and always that Sunshine that we called her. So I think that
02:03 You know, it's there was always hope there and you know, I always say that hope is the last to die and I think that you know, you could start to see that Daniella was losing hope and that I loosen the kids. It really devastated her and it always makes me question about how accidental overdose might have been. Do you want to go into detail about how she lost her kids or yeah, how you think it affected her who to blame for it? You know, she she struggled with addiction for 12 years and it was really tough and none of us really understood what was going on and understood that diction like we do today.
02:57 I mean
02:59 The the the state the people around her kept, you know trying to protect the kids and trying to get them help and we were the foster parents for the boys and Chuck and Sue or the foster parents for the girls. And you know, when when I was at the court when they were having that hearing about whether their rights would be terminated as parents. It was so difficult to be up there and testify because I knew at some point. I was really stretching the truth then really it would be so much better for the kids to be taken out of that environment. And you know, there was one point during the recess that her and Kyle went out to a car and shot up heroin and Kyle OD'd during that experience and had to be revived.
03:59 I left and it was at that point where I almost started losing hope that anything could ever change and that maybe she did deserve to lose the kids or the kids deserve to have something better and to have a more stable life. So
04:20 That's kind of how she lost the kids. I think things would be different if I knew then what I knew now, but that's how she lost the kids and that's how she lost her help. What would you do differently to try to have a different influence on like her situation and like her addiction?
04:41 I think the very first thing would be I would have thrown tough love out the door. There's never a place for that in the addiction world in the getting rid of somebody's substance use disorder. I remember I remember when she was 16 years old and she left the house for school one morning and butt dialed Mom and you could hear on the on the phone that she was like all my stepmother so stupid she thought I wasn't doing this but I got these pills and we're going to go do this and she was admitting that she was going to go take Xanax and how naive we were and
05:30 Mom called me and told me everything and I went right to the school and told her.
05:36 You're coming with me right now. Get your stuff out of your locker. I took her home and I said I can't have this around our family anymore. You've got to stop but you're not stopping you have to go and she took her stuff and she walked to Chris and I kicked her out right into her drug habit and I suffered a connection. That was the worst thing I could have done because people that are struggling with addiction are fake and they need that connection. It's the worst thing I could have done and knowing what I know. Now I would have held her closer to me. I would have been with her a lot more. I would have stopped a lot of the work. I was doing in Dubai and building jdn and all of those things I should have been.
06:36 On what I'm doing today, not what I was doing that.
06:41 What do you think the biggest Gateway leading to her addiction was?
06:47 I think that you know if she lived with her mother and her stepdad until she was 14 as you know.
06:56 And she
06:59 You know, she lost her mom when her mom said, you know, you got to go you got to go live with your dad and her mom kind of chose her other family over her and I think that really hurt Daniela and it was her first big loss of a connection and then when she got
07:19 In Lansing or in Grand Ledge in this case, and she got connected with
07:26 Her cousin and you know, they started smoking cigarettes and smoking weed and all of that, you know, people people say that you know, that first cigarette and weed juice was maybe what was the Gateway but when she got in trouble for getting caught with cigarettes and she got that in my pee and they the minor in possession and they put her on probation and they started drug testing or for marijuana and she failed that drug test and got ordered to go to a Narcotics Anonymous and NA meeting in the kids there said don't
08:13 Smoke marijuana anymore. They do you know, it's in your system for too long. You're going to fail your drug test. Why don't you start taking Xanax? Because that'll be out of your system in 72 hours. So you won't
08:29 Spell that drug test and she started taking those pills and then those pills led to the cocaine use and then the cocaine to the Oxycontin and they oxycotton to the heroine in the airline to the fentanyl. You know, it's
08:47 The gateway to me was the system. I mean an MIP and you have to go to Na and you've got you know, these drug test that are just walking you right into this and you've got all these people around you telling you how to game the system and it was an us-against-them and really it should have been all of us together trying to help the sick kid. So to me the biggest Gateway is our society in our systems that we've built that
09:24 Have unwanted consequences unexpected unpredictable.
09:32 What made you smile about Danielle of the most her face her smile her to remember what she looked like I know exactly what she look like that describe it that you know, really blind almost white hair that smooth skin unless of course she was
09:56 Grand Master said she would break out and pick it that but she was so rounded and soft then, you know almost pale but not really pale. She she had a brightness about her. I called her Sunshine since the first day I saw her and I mean her her Radiance was almost overwhelming sometimes.
10:25 What's something special about her that you would want other people to know about her?
10:30 She didn't want to be an addict she.
10:35 Didn't know how to not be an attic she had a gap in her life that she was trying to fill.
10:42 She loved her kids so very very much. I mean she might have done these things that seem horrible to us, but you really have to question.
10:57 You know how powerful addiction really is when somebody will do that at their court case when they're losing something that they love so much it wasn't it wasn't her fault. It wasn't it wasn't her choice to be an addict. It's something that happened to her like an accident would happen to anybody and once that happened to her. She should have been being treated not punished and the system is just full of punishment or we think we can beat some private sobriety into people.
11:39 I don't know that that's one thing that needs to be said the other things are she was such a great writer. I mean
11:52 Her stories her poetry for journaling. It's amazing stuff.
11:59 I really should read it sometime. I just can't bring myself to do it. She wrote me something before graduation was just like a right before it happened and I reread it like all the time pretty much every night before I go to bed.
12:13 That was the best day your graduation party when she was there.
12:19 And I didn't hug her enough on that day.
12:23 She was running around taking pictures of everybody. I was scared. She was high.
12:29 Is always that you know, I always thought is she going to show up high. Is she going to show up strung out? Is she going to be really antsy and anxious and nervous. And is she going to wreck something, you know wreck your party or I never really could tell though like I always knew that she did but she was just always so happy Robbie like she would have let herself like act like that around me like she always make sure she was like a happy attitude around me unless I asked her if she needed help like once I start the older she was always scared that you and Rain would become addicts somehow. She always wanted to protect you against that. I mean, I think it the experience Honestly made me stay away from things like that more.
13:18 Like I know I guess I could see where can have the opposite effect and people would be like, oh, why is my loved one doing this like maybe I should try it because like if it's so special to them to like Risk, I can see where people go that way but for me and I think her into I think we both were just like that makes them look a lot less attractive to me, but it could have been cuz we knew about it when we were really young so we liked it like it compared to being older and find I think it was helpful. I always think that that's there that that's been something solid. She left for you guys and I get scared sometimes that you know, you guys are going to try something for some reason and then I think there's no way they're going to do that Daniela. It just seems like you
14:07 In Rainbows, I really turned off about that
14:11 I think that's one of the way she's still around, you know, you can talk about heaven and hell and all these things but you know, we don't really believe that type of stuff but I do believe her spirits here and her memories have an impact on what how we act so she must still be here. I feel her most with music like there's a lot of songs and like after we're going through all of her stuff. She had like a CD and I was like, all the songs were about likes to ride and stuff like that and I always have that I had that in my car and I like every time I hear any of those songs you have songs that remind you of her.
14:55 Well, you know I used to I used to drive from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids every other weekend to get her and we would drive so fast and we would listen to either prints or the Beastie Boys every single time. So I think
15:25 You know that the Paul Revere from the Beastie Boys is always the song 1999 Scott to be a song there.
15:37 Any time any of that comes on it reminds me of her.
15:41 Think we evolved into like 50 Cent and Nelly. That's why I remember
15:48 Rihanna Ciara
15:53 If she can talk to you right now or she knew that I was going to be her last moment with you. Why do you think that she would have said to you? Like do you think what you think you should say if she knew and what do you think she would say like right now in this moment? She could talk you like what would her advice fee or not even advise just in general?
16:15 She would say she's sorry. That would be the first thing.
16:20 And that she didn't mean for this to happen.
16:25 And she didn't want to be an addict and she didn't want to keep doing drugs.
16:31 She would ask me about the kids and how they're doing.
16:39 And you know, she would she would be concerned about everybody else. You know, it wouldn't be.
16:50 You know people always thought she was vain because she was so pretty and she was so talented at so many things that
17:02 You know, they looked at her and said she must be this, you know stuck up kid or whatever. But if you ever got to know her she was the opposite of that.
17:11 She wasn't.
17:13 You know hung up on herself, but she was she like to get dolled up penalty, but
17:22 I thought that's what makes it harder is that you know that she didn't want to be in it like you could just tell if I feel like she wasn't going through a loan, but I feel like I wish I have personally was older because I feel like I never really liked got to be there for her. Like it was always her taking care of me, but then like like we finally started to get closer and she started to finally open up to me about it. But by the time that happened like it was too late for me to really sit down with her and be like what help do you need from a friend not just like a parent cuz like it's one thing when it's packed like your parents like you don't want to be embarrassed. You don't want to admit probably those things. I don't know if that's really how she was feeling but I just like wish I was a little bit older like when it all happened because I feel like she like made herself go out alone or go through it alone. Like we all ask her to be open with himself, but I feel like she really really just like took out her out as a mission to try to do it by herself.
18:21 She didn't want to involve everybody and I think that's part because she wanted to be strong but also part because there's so much stigma with addiction that the real friends that she did have that weren't addicts started to just drift away from where they didn't want to be associated with her. They didn't want to thank people.
18:49 They don't want people to think that they were addicts to and then there was all also the whole problem with you. Never knew what she had on her. You know, we're all going to jail if this car gets pulled over cut type of thing.
19:12 Do you think you're any different from before you lost in yellow? And how does it affect how you
19:21 Like live your day-to-day life in like talk to me and rain and I'm very different I think.
19:31 You know what? It's some point there. I had to look at all of this right in its face and decide what my rule was and I have decided that I had to take ownership and
19:48 You know that that'll start to sound like I blame myself for it.
19:54 But what I really mean by that and I and I do blame myself I blame myself for traveling to Dubai so much. I blame myself for drinking. I believe in myself for not being available when I should have been available. She should have been able to call me at any point in the day and have her dad there for her and if I was drinking or I was in Dubai, I mean, I remember I was standing it in a hotel room in Dubai when Mom told me she did cocaine or that they caught her doing cocaine and I was like what? Yeah, but you were taking care of your family by being there.
20:41 I appreciate that. But I guess what I'm saying is that when I really look back, you know, I wish I would have been there for everybody more and then I should have been here locally. I think you don't realize how much you're there for us. So because like even since my fight on my friends is all the time since my freshman year of high school, which is like seven years ago. You've literally texted me every single day for the last 7 years and Lily say I love you. What can you do for what can I do for you? Or I love you. How are you? Like literally every single day for the last 7 years and that was way before it even happened that I know you did that for Daniel to and you did it for her into 82 of her looks like you should give yourself a little bit more credit than just
21:29 Thing that you were there cuz you were there the most
21:35 Ann and also after I just want to add a little more to my answer and I need to tell you I love you and thank you
21:44 But the
21:47 I'm different because I studied addiction more and I got really really motivated.
21:57 Try to help other people stop and you know what?
22:03 That group the family against narcotics. So I started attending that and I got on the board and you know, they're doing some good work for stigma reduction, but I really don't.
22:17 Think that that's enough and it was really when I got my first Narcan training and I realized that
22:27 You know Danielle love she died in a bathroom. Really? I mean we took her off life support in the hospital, but she died in the bathroom at Quality Dairy.
22:38 And she was not breathing for 20 minutes.
22:43 And that Narcan gives you a 20 to 30 minutes of breathing while the ambulance gets there.
22:51 And I think about
22:54 You know, the people that she was with they knew that something was wrong. The the clerks must have known that something was wrong. And if someone would have just had Narcan and could have got that into her and giving her some more breaths and call the ambulance but I bet you everybody that she was with was afraid of getting arrested and didn't know what to do and didn't have Narcan and couldn't figure it out and the clerks, you know that what do they know about all of this? They didn't know what to do.
23:34 I don't know if we got stung by a bee a lot of us would know what to do with epipens sin.
23:42 I want I want to spread that around with Narcan and other things that we need. I mean I'd like addiction to go away but it's not and we can't just say no to drugs and think we're going to solve the problem. We've got to do something that reduces harm and we've got to keep people alive longer. We got to get them to the ambulance. We got to get on to treatment and you do every every person that's going to overdose today has a mother and a father and
24:19 They were born not I mean, I guess Chloe was born addicted but most kids aren't born addicted and they don't grow up aspiring to be an addict. This happens to them. We do it to them.
24:38 We create the attics and a kind of accepted ownership for that.
24:44 And I want to do a lot of harm reduction work and
24:51 I don't know every time I do she's with me and we were talking about it right now. She's right here since she.
25:00 What's helps you the most as you've been grieving over Daniela and do you feel like you're at the point where you're just missing her. Do you still stink you're grieving?
25:15 Think I'm grieving.
25:19 I'm still craving. I don't know that.
25:22 That process has a lot of closure for me. There's a gap it punches me in the stomach.
25:30 I want to say everyday but most days.
25:34 At basement I talked about where we went down in the funeral home and we looked
25:42 Adder she was wrapped up like like an angel really. I mean, it seems cliche, but she she looks like a nun with the tight wrap around her face and her beautiful face was just sticking out and we decided that you know the cremator and
26:08 She didn't have that funeral. She didn't have that open casket and I just I regret that sometimes I wish you could have seen her face.
26:19 Because she was really really beautiful and really peaceful and all the stress of being an addict was gone.
26:37 What else do you plan on doing with your organization?
26:42 Well, we got to keep going we've got to get.
26:48 We got to take the criminal aspect out of drug use. We've got to follow the models that are working.
26:59 Which are usually the harm reduction models the decriminalization models. We've got to get people aware that people are sick. This is something that's happened to your brain.
27:15 It's like trying to hold your breath for as long as you possibly can eventually your brains going to make you pass out and you will not be able to hold your breath and you'll Breathe Again.
27:29 And the opposite of what happens with an overdose, but
27:33 This isn't something you can just say I'm going to stop.
27:39 It's physical. It's real and the science behind it. We need to do more and so I'm going to push people to do more. I'm going to hold people accountable and I'm going to hold myself accountable.
27:54 How do you think after losing Daniela how do you plan to like tree might like the nephews and nieces? Like how is that going to help you raise them based on I like what happened with Daniela. And is it going to be like an open conversation type of thing or it is going to be an open conversation? Because I think that being open and honest about what happens gives them.
28:23 You know what true history and gives them an understanding of
28:29 You know they weren't.
28:32 Less valuable because their mother did that they were everything to her.
28:39 And I think that you don't keep in that connection with them by all means necessary will always be there for me. I'm never
28:51 Going to show tough. Love to them. That was a big mistake that I'll never let happen again. I think that you know keeping them surrounded by people that love them is going to help them a lot. I think they're at a higher risk, you know, especially you look at Chloe who was
29:13 You know Barn she had Oxycontin in her system when she was born.
29:20 You know, that's she's at risk. We got to keep her close and keep her love then if something happens is only cares about school the most.
29:33 Track she's too smart to interested student until 9th grade.
29:45 When Christopher and Xander Liliana to Sutter Street
29:51 It's going to be on the safe side. We need the boys to stop up.
30:01 Do you think I'm different after Daniela?
30:09 As far as the way you treat me. No, not necessarily. You've always been a really good to me. But I think it kind of made me realize how much you did for me. I think that you're a lot more attentive with us. Not that you were before. You always did everything for us, but you can tell that like, you're just making it really clear even though we already know you just make it very clear you put a lot of effort into showing how much like the family means to us a means to you.
30:43 I think I've seen you in the rain definitely get a lot closer after it happened and like I know
30:53 It was probably nice to have you and Mom together. So I don't I don't know if that brought you guys closer or further apart, but from my perspective, it looks like it probably buys a lot closer.
31:06 I feel like
31:08 The fledge has been a good outlet for you, like doing a lot of work. I feel like it makes you happy. It's giving you an outlet to recover from losing Daniela.
31:21 I think work keeps you your mind off of it. At first I was like worried about you and Mom you guys were really different for like the first couple months. I was like, where'd you guys are going to stop eating and I just like wanted you guys to take care of your guys's selves, but you guys were more focused on taking care of everybody else. But I think now after all this time everybody is kind of feeling a little better at least have this figured out how to deal with like the status and turn into something that's more positive for each other.
31:59 Do you think you're different?
32:01 I think it's made me a lot smarter about addiction like being able to see it in my friends or what I should be talked about at music festivals.
32:16 I that's like like drugs are all around sometimes like you see it in the crowd. It's not like the biggest aspect of a festival but it's been me bring like anti-narcotics and stuff so I can like see somebody like if I see someone overdosing I might be able to extend like their life by a couple minutes when someone can get there so it's made me a lot smarter about it. And I think it's probably a lot closer to my family, but
32:42 Yeah, there's no way I couldn't be different without doing a little like she was probably the best thing that was in my life.
32:53 What do you think about people who like the world they look at us?
33:00 Does it make you feel bad does it about mad at them about what people they bring up?
33:10 Like people who don't know.
33:13 And I like all those drug addicts or they say something negative for nobody in my family's ever going to overdose.
33:21 Like I see the moon and I'm doing Narcan CertiFit or training. I mean, I just think they're ignorant like I'm a very straightforward person. So if I can tell that somebody's being rude about a subject. I'm just going to straight up say that they're being ignorant about it, but I don't really think about what other people think about it. If they don't want to listen then they can learn it themselves and that's just like I know I don't really care to see how other people see it and if they're interested enough to ask and I'll be happy to tell them.
33:54 Do you think people think it's a disease or a crime or it's a crime for sure, but it's definitely a disease, but I think
34:04 At least for like by generation right now. I think it's starting to be like an open conversation and like is what a lot more like
34:13 I don't know what television movies stuff that kind of talk about it and show it for like the ugly truth that it is like a disease. I don't know like I think there's like more education on it, but it's kind of like a new science. So there's only so much that we know about it, but I think that
34:31 It's changing in that people of our generation are going to start to say it because like when I say that to my friends that it says, he's there like all yeah, definitely like I never had to say anything about it. So I feel like the conversations are happening but
34:48 What should we say to Christopher know is he's getting close to the age of one Daniela start it.
35:00 Probably that we're proud of him and that were there for him and that he doesn't ever have to be afraid to tell us anything.
35:10 Especially me. Hopefully maybe I want to be old by the time you kids like high school, but I hope that you like sees me as like a friend's more than just like his hair, but I think he already knows that.
35:25 Or just hit him.
35:27 I think I'm going to say to him a lot of the truths and I think I'm going to
35:34 You know try to figure out.
35:36 Noah's father still alive
35:40 Should he meet his father, you know his father still struggling he sent you a lie still addicted.
35:49 You know, I'm really going back and forth and that I think you should probably have the conversation with him and see what he likes. But I think it sucks because you don't want to run out of time cuz you never know what can happen. But I also don't know if now is the time this cuz he's going to be going through a lot of big changes what's going on, but also he might be young enough where it might not have as much of an effect as it might when he's older and going through a little bit harder things on his own.
36:22 But I think you should I think he grew up really fast like everyone in our family had to grow up really really fast and I think that he's like mature enough to have the conversation. So if you wanted to have a conversation with him about it, I think that you might be curious. I don't know if he knows I got it. We've never really talked about it. So but I think he's so true enough to be able to talk about it and think about it and decide on it.
36:49 I guess you'll be his choice. But also you should probably get in contact with his dad cuz I don't even know if he how I would get in contact with him or if you would stay here,
37:04 We could find.
37:06 Not that we want sneak attack surprises.
37:11 Alright ask me one more thing.
37:21 What is advice would you give yourself if you came from the future for 10 years later? Like what would your 10-year plan advice. To help prevent?
37:34 What happened?
37:39 Keep her close.
37:43 Find our more friends find a more people.
37:48 Get our family closer get closer to even Grand Ledge was too far away from Grandma and Grandpa and
37:58 The other aunts and uncles
38:01 Keep Us close keep us busy.
38:05 Forgive us when we kind of slip and fall and relapse or whatever.
38:12 And just get back up.
38:15 And learn from it and go to the next stop but never ever.
38:22 Abandon each other no matter what?
38:26 Love you. I love you.