Black and White Photograph of Dylan Brown, 18 years old, wearing an Ibanez guitar t-shirt and jeans against a background of graffiti, My Forever Son
Dylan, My Forever Son

Beat Still My Heart

Beat Still My Heart

Beat still my heart
Beat still my mind
Weary though thou art,
Carry his love along with thine
Though heavy on thy shoulders
Crost fields throughout all time.

In the deepest dark of the bleakest night, 
If light there be, the dark shuts it out. 
Around you all is swirling, 
hurtling backwards now through time, 
a hellish hue stricken each his years 
when here on earth 'twas mine.
Deeply within that starless darkest night, 
Go deeper yet still darker, 
Oceans depth to oceans wide. 
Galaxies wide careening, 
Spilling insides outside in
To release thy soul still screaming, 
Clasping hands and heart to his.    

Body, mind, soul, rough and ragged, 
weeping tears falling still throughout time, 
Carrying weight of mourning and grieving 
Falling broken when thou wert mine. 

© Beth Brown, 2022
Red Rose in June, My Forever Son
Red Rose in June, My Forever Son

Suicide changes everything. And the deep, deep soul ache never goes away. Learning to live again is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

I have been awash in grief, alive in my life’s greatest tragedy. Nothing worse will or can happen to me. My son died by suicide.

Abstract art-black and white textured  mixed media

Suicide Changes Everything

Suicide Changes Everything

Suicide changes everything. It rests in the margins of my life, an undertow beneath all else concurrent and elsewhere.

I rose and drowned a million deaths at sea, being forced under by tidal waves, shoved down deep past violent destruction and floating and sinking debris, my life as I knew it, rising only momentarily to gasp, choke, scream only to be plunged forcibly down again.

I lived in exile from everything–my own breath, eating, sleeping, moving. I couldn’t do anything I’d always done–work, listen to music, play music, cook, shop, take care of myself, shower, get food in my body, exercise, smile, laugh, be present, be there for any of my family or friends, drive, walk, live. I had to be reminded to breathe.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son
Red, Pink, Yellow and White Popcorn Ground Roses in June
Red, Pink, Yellow and White Popcorn Ground Roses in June

I am Beth, Dylan’s Mom. I am in my third year of learning to keep on keeping on after losing my only child, my beloved 20-year-old son, to suicide on June 25, 2012. My life forever changed that day, and who I was died too.

A great and terrible Tsunami swept in and through everything I knew and loved and cared about in life, and all that I was and loved and cared about was swept out into a violent, retching ocean, infinite fathoms deep, defying any earthly description here, blacker than a starless night.

I couldn’t hear, see, be, hold, reach for, grasp, touch, feel anything familiar, loved or comforting. I couldn’t find my son and reached, grasped, searched for him for days, weeks, months on end. When I came to, I realized that somehow, I was still alive and that Dylan had been washed out to sea. I had finally surfaced from the ferocity of the storm and there I was, alone without my son. I didn’t want to live without him.

I lived this way for as long as it took to come to, the tidal waves to come less frequently, for me to be enough above the surface of the deep water to catch my breath. When I did, I couldn’t speak. I had no words, and for the first time ever, learned what keening really means. I cried out to God, to Dylan, to life, but in the end, it changed nothing.

My son and I had been washed out to sea and in coming to, I moved into what will now be the forever season of my life–living without Dylan, being forever a bereaved mother, living outside the realm of “normal” for most people, having to travel a grief and life journey for which I had no equipping, no guide, no preparation, no direction. It will be 3 years come June since Dylan died and I am only just now beginning to get my bearings.

Purple Meadow Geranium in June
Purple Meadow Geranium in June

And so it is, slowly, in a stretch of days, weeks, months, years, I have somehow found the strength to get to a safe shore. But my world is small and I find I am on an island set apart from how most people live. I am learning to integrate Dylan’s death into my life, and on my best days, know, sense, feel, and understand that he lives yet still and is right there with me in everything I think, say, speak, and do.

But I am on a journey and truth be told, some days are just impossible. Holidays, Dylan’s birthday in March, his memorial day in June, Mother’s Day, seasons of the year, summer as a whole because in what used to be one of my favorite months of the year, my son took his life.

I struggle still moving from January through June because Dylan attempted suicide 4 times (January, February, March, and May) before he died by suicide in June. Each suicide attempt was worse than the last, an endless stream of critical care units, emergency rooms, psych wards, antidepressants, counseling, treatment centers, lock-down units, suicide watches, and infinite love and the madness of not being able to make my son want to live.

If love could have saved him, Dylan would have lived forever. And actually, because I have faith and hope in seeing Dylan again, in being able to spend forever with him, I believe Dylan does live on, just not here in this realm where I can see, touch, hear, feel him–his love, his laugh, his quick wit, his beautiful original music. I miss him everywhere, all at once, all the years, 19 years, 3 months, and 6 days, and I am gradually growing to understand I will never know why Dylan couldn’t stay. I hear him (in my mind) say, “I had to go.”

I saw Dylan for the last time on Sunday, June 24th, 2012 when I brought him what he had asked me to get for him–Taco Bell, a Volcano burrito with extra fire sauce. I told Dylan I loved him, stood up on my tip-toes to hug him, and Dylan said, “I love you, too.” These are my son’s last words to me.

Beat still my heart

Beat still my mind

Weary though thou art,

Carry his love along with thine,

Though heavy on thy shoulders,

crost fields throughout all time.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son

I have struggled, I struggle still, but I am at my best and most at peace when I realize Dylan really did–and still does–love me deeply. 

Photo of 18 year old young man, Dylan, My Forever Son
Dylan, My Forever Son

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One reply on “Beat Still My Heart: A Poem About Losing My Son to Suicide”

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