Death Is My Closest Friend. ~ Dejah Beauchamp

Via Dejah Beauchampon Jul 12, 2013

Death

He was with us during the car ride to the hospital, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

What I noticed was the heaviness in the air, the fog around the car, the darkness. I didn’t know he was there, too.

I first heard his voice in these, the doctor’s words: I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.

And that was when I saw Death, standing tall in the shadows of the darkened hospital room. I wanted to tell him to go away, to leave us alone. But my grief overwhelmed me, and I had no words.

After 40 weeks of pregnancy, I gave birth to a daughter with a full head of flaxen hair, perfect, rosy, beautiful—a little girl out of a fairy tale.

But she made no sound.

Her eyes never opened.

I was too late. Death had delivered her first.

I ignored him those first few weeks. I refused to look at him at the funeral, and I tried not to notice him standing next to me as I packed away all the baby things, unused. But he is a hard man to ignore.

As the months went by, my rage and sadness became muted. They were still there, but I slowly, cautiously fumbled my way to some semblance of a normal life and let all those feelings be. I didn’t want to hurt anymore.

But Death still follows me everywhere, the shade to my shadow, and I cannot lose him.

He sits next to me when I’m driving. He tries to hold my hand but I tell him, “Your fingers are too cold.” He nods and smiles.

I see his reflection on the surface of a pond where geese have come to play. Death comments on the loveliness of the setting sun mirrored in the water. I reluctantly agree.

I don’t know what to make of him.

When I reach out for my husband in bed at night, Death is there between us, and a different kind of sadness takes hold of me.

Sometimes Death wraps his arms around me until no other thought can enter my mind but him.

And I must always, always stand between him and my living son.

On rare occasions, Death sits with us at dinner and makes the tears stream down my face while I’m trying to eat. Those are the worst moments; both my son and my husband share my grief, but we each have our own language, and none of us knows what to say.

Death has made us mute.

He used to sit next to me in church, while I searched for meaning. Yet, after a while, holy books and words and even faith itself (“She’s in a better place.” Well now, how do you know?) ceased to have meaning. And now Death sits home with me on Sundays, as I try to figure things out on my own, to find an answer to an impossible riddle.

He is there when we go out for ice cream, when my husband and I talk with the nice couple in front of us as we wait in line. “How many children do you have?” they ask. Death smirks at me, as if to say How will you handle this one?

I don’t know. I don’t know anymore. Do I have one child or two? If I say “two,” they will inevitably ask how old my children are. And I can’t answer that. My daughter is ageless, I always want to say, but I can’t talk about her now. Not when we’re standing in line for ice cream. They don’t want to think about Death while eating ice cream. That’s my burden.

“One”, I finally say. One is the dagger in my heart.

Sometimes I can’t contain my anger, and Death and I fight like we’re in a telenovela—I slap him in the face and tell him to get out. I never want to see him again. He’ll leave, looking all forlorn, and sometimes he even has the decency to look ashamed. But he always comes back.

It’s been almost two years since my daughter was stillborn. I find myself forgetting certain things. The smell of her. The way her hair felt—was it silk in my fingers or something else? What shade of blonde was it really? She weighed seven pounds, nine ounces, but what did that weight feel like in my arms? I have trouble remembering.

And I realize: Time is my enemy, not Death. Time leads me to forget all these important things.

But I refuse to let these memories go, I clutch at them as a drowning woman clutches at a piece of driftwood in a wild sea. These memories, however simple and brief—they are all I have left of my daughter.

She is the ghost who flits in and out of my mind; she is something faded but beautiful, like a pressed flower in a memory book.

I close my eyes and try to picture her as she would be now, not as mouldering bones beneath the earth, but as a little girl of almost-two, hair growing long and braided with flowers, a smile that could set the world alight.

In my grief, I find that I’ve become an island. It was a subtle change—almost imperceptible. I woke up one day and there I was, alone. No one could share this sorrow. It had become so personal, so unique to me, that I hid it. I cut myself off.

So I can’t be entirely mad at Death, you see. While others have moved on and urge me to do the same (never, never, I will never forget her), Death, at least—Death is always with me. His fingers are cold, his smile unforgiving, but he never tells me to get over it. He lets me cry for as long as I want. He knows the answer to “How many children do you have?” He knows the ache in my chest more intimately than anyone else, because he put it there.

And, knowing how brief and fragile our grasp on this world is, I savor life because of him. Whenever I feel frightened, timid, overwhelmed by the world and unanswered questions, I hear these words: Open your eyes. Try everything once. Be brave. Be brave. Be brave.

Death is my closest friend. He never leaves me.

 Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: B. Bemel

About Dejah Beauchamp

Dejah Beauchamp has had a love of words ever since she read Alice In Wonderland as a child. In addition to raising her son, she makes time to nurture her love for kundalini yoga, reading and, of course, writing. You can often find her in the kitchen, trying out new recipes, or outside at night, stargazing. She lives in New England with her husband, son and a cat named Oona, but dreams of sunnier climes.

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24 Responses to “Death Is My Closest Friend. ~ Dejah Beauchamp”

  1. Carolina Fernandez says:

    Hi Dejah. Thank you for sharing. I'd like to respectfully, recommend the book "Feeding Your Demons" by Tsultrim Allione. Namaste.

  2. Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

    Powerful. Wow.

  3. Lynn Shattuck lynnola says:

    Heartbreaking and powerful.

  4. Rosy says:

    This will never go away. You are right. But you will smile again. I promise.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Wow, absolutely beautiful, Dejah. Thank you.

  6. Suzanne says:

    Wow, beautiful, Dejah. Thank you.

  7. sherry says:

    This is one of the most powerful pieces of writing I have ever read. Thank you for sharing something so intimate.

  8. kimberely says:

    So many blessings. And thank you so much for sharing this — I have a dear friend who went through stillbirth years back. I tried so hard to be there for her ( I was pregnant at the time, it was very hard for us both. Certainly, far worse for her). And as much as I wanted to, I knew I could never fully understand what it was like for her, what it will *always* be like for her. Reading this brought me some strange sense of … relief. ("Here. It's like THIS.") And more understanding. And above all, more love and empathy.

    Many blessings, ever unfolding, Dejah,
    Kimberely @unshakablesoul

    • dejah says:

      I'm so moved by your kind words, Kimberely. Thank you so much, and much love to you and your friend.

  9. tori says:

    I have also given birth to a still born baby, at 40 weeks. He was a boy. He was a twin and his sister is with us. Thank goodness. It was excrutiatingly difficult; the mix of emotions- sheer joy at the birth of our first child and the grief and tragedy of loss. But honestly After 3 years, of therapy, shamanic work, and in particular working with Ayahuasca in Brazil (my husband, daughter and I all went to a beautiful place in Bahia for 3 months) I have to say I feel at peace with it. I even see the blessing in it and am grateful for that. I know that it was exactly as it should have been. This feeling of acceptance is no longer, purely philisophical or theoretical, but feels in my body quite integrated. I feel utterly grateful that Hugo came to me, and I understand that he went home. I have seen that it was only supposed to be us three- my husband, me and my daughter- at that time. Now we are expecting another child, a girl, and of course I am very scared, this article reminds me of that fear strongly. I also see how I am MUCH more scared of life in general, like I am waiting for tragedy to strike. But I am working on those fears with the help of others trained in dealing with this. Thank you for the beautiful writing and your sharing. I hope that you can find joy, and beauty in what has happened to you, and lots of strength. I am certain you have.

    • dejah says:

      Tori, I'm so sorry for your loss. Acceptance is the hardest thing to achieve after losing a baby but it seems like you have it in abundance! That's beautiful and amazing to hear. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me hope that one day I will feel at peace too.

  10. Dejah that was beautiful. My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss and prayers to your sweet angel! It's a tough road you have journeyed on. You have stood on the precipice and one stared into the abyss. You know what it's like to walk the razors edge and yet you keep walking. Thank you for sharing your journey of death and life, light and darkness. This is yoga, this is the place the yogi/yogini lives; holding hands on the journey with their constant companion death. From most of us It's only when we truly see death do we see life. "There is nothing worse than loosing a child" ~ June Collwood (a great advocate one of my heroes). I read some beautiful words taken from a Hasidic Sefer (prayer book) (from a book titled Wrestling With The Angel Published by Schoken) 7 years agon after my daughter's diagnosis that gave me comfort, peace and hope. “How will we recognize those we loved when we meet them after 120 years in the world-to-come? If they died young, will they have grown old? If they were hurt or wounded, will they have healed? How will we know them, how will they know us if we have changed or aged? The answer is that we will know them, we will recognize them because they will be clothed and cloaked in the mitzvahs (good deeds) we do in their name.”

  11. Elizabeth says:

    My son was stillborn 8 years ago next week. I still struggle to make sense of why this happened. I am touched by your writing and hope that you find peace with your family. Your daughter will always be a part of your life.

    • dejah says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Elizabeth. I'm so sorry for your loss. Love and peace to you and your family.

  12. Bess says:

    Thankyou Dejah,

    Please write more.

    Love, love to you

  13. Dejah, dear one, you ARE brave — beyond words. You are looking Death in the eye and letting it transform you utterly, an act of immeasurable courage. All blessings and light to you, to your dead daughter and to your best friend.

  14. Bruce says:

    Dear Dejah,
    The first post of yours that I read was about the "Hammock", you, your wonderful son and 'being'. I thought it was so good that I forwarded it to my student mailing list. (Many appreciative comments came back to me).
    This submission is so beautiful and touching and honest that I want to keep it for myself. As if sharing it would be too personal – a betrayal of a person conversation. I want to keep it as if you had shared it with me only.
    Thank you and many, many blessings.

    • dejah says:

      Bruce, thank you so much for reading and sharing my work. I'm so honored that this particular piece has touched you. Definitely keep it for yourself if that's what you feel moved to do! I put my words out there and let my readers take them as they will. Your kind words are much appreciated.

  15. Nunh says:

    I always wonder why death is labeled male.
    I am sorry for your loss.

    • dejah says:

      That's a good point, Nunh. I tend to see Death as male because I grew up in a culture where both he and God are portrayed as masculine. So it comes more naturally to me to see him that way. But I know other cultures have different traditions and Death might very well be female in a lot of them!

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