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A Letter from Chagit

Introducing Speak, Son: A Memoir by Chagit Deitz, created in loving memory of Ben Deitz.

Dear Readers,

Our son Ben left this world too soon. He was 32 when he died unexpectedly in 2015.

 

Ben left behind a treasure trove of his creative expressions: journals, essays, stories, art, lyrics, music, and many mysteries. I spent years trying to put the pieces together, to understand his life and death, and to connect with him across the veil. 

Ben’s personal words, art and music inspired me to share our unique family story, and my artistic journey. I wove the three narratives together in a nonlinear way, creating a tapestry of emotions, memories, and insights that transcends time and space.

 

Writing this book was a way of keeping Ben alive in my heart and mind. It was a therapeutic process that helped me cope with my loss and grief. It also allowed me to honor Ben’s work and legacy, to give it a voice and a platform. I realized that, through his material, I had a message to share with the world: We live in a culture that values stimulation, productivity, and quick fixes, but often neglects the deep pain, stigma, and shame that surround mental illness and substance abuse. I was born in Israel to a European Jewish family who survived the Holocaust. I married an American man and moved to the US, where Ben was born and raised in an “American” culture, different from my own or my parents’. This placed all of us in a liminal position. This story is personal, but it touches on universal issues that affect many families. 

 

The book is a tribute to Ben’s multifaceted personality, not defined by his illness, but by his passions, talents, and dreams. It explores gender identity and expression; art as a form of self-discovery and healing; music as a universal language and a source of joy; motherhood as a sacred bond and a learning experience; somatic language as a way of listening to the body and the soul; depression, addiction, stigma, and shame as challenges that need compassion and awareness; and generational trauma as a legacy that can be transformed. Above all, the book examines loss, grief, and hope as part of the human condition. All these themes are interwoven and intertwined, creating a rich and complex narrative that invites reflection and empathy.

 

Creating this book has meant so much to me. I hope it touches you. 

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