24 March 2015, Tuesday – The blackest day in my life (1)

Tired like every morning, I shuffle around the flat on this Tuesday. It´s the daily grind: make coffee, stick the toast in and head for the loo. I switch the TV on – the same old craziness — and switch it right off. I reach for the French language calendar, review yesterday´s page and eagerly concentrate on today´s. Tick that off the list!
After taking care of all the usual stuff I pick up the phone to find out if the job I saw advertised in the paper is still available. No one answers.
Now the nice part of the day starts: I´ll add another chapter to my Norway blog. I put my laptop on my desk with the notes and map from our last holiday in that wonderful country. I am immediately engrossed. Luckily I spot the phone and remember to ring a second time about the job. It´s been filled, I learn. There was a huge response to the advert and I should try back in three weeks.
I return to the depths of Scandinavia.
It´s 10.41. I take no notice. I´m writing. I have no idea that far away our son has crashed into a mountain range. No skipped heartbeat, no restlessness, no premonition that he was in massive danger! “We drive through the Svartisen Tunnel, which is 7.6 km long.” I finish the sentence, glance at the clock and go into the kitchen. While I´m preparing lunch there´s a breaking news story on the radio. A German airplane has crashed in southern France. How awful…
I sit down in front of the TV and watch a special report on the crash. I pick at my lunch. “Barcelona, Germanwings” are running on a permanent loop through my head. Suddenly the words “business trip” and “Jens” appear out of nowhere. I can´t get them out of my mind – they claw their way into my brain. Hadn´t he said he was flying to Barcelona this week on business? On Germanwings??? When was that? Damn it, when??? I think as hard as I can but I just can´t remember. My pulse starts to race.
Jens has crashed!!!
I immediately banish the dreadful thought.
Pull yourself together! Your imagination is running wild again!
But what if he was on that flight?
Should I ring him at work? Send an sms?
He´ll think his mother has gone off the deep end!
An email would be less obvious. I go back and forth whether to send it, if I should write “Please tell me you´re in Germany.” I open my laptop. The phone rings. It´s Melanie, Jens´s girlfriend in Düsseldorf, where he has lived and worked for the past ten years. She sounds tearful. “Have you heard the news?”
I take a deep breath, then the words tumble out: “Shit! Don´t tell me he was on that plane?”
“I don´t know. This morning he sent me an sms and said he was at the Barcelona airport.”
I don´t say a word. Blood is pounding through my veins.
She continues more calmly. “I rang his company up. They only know he´s coming back today but they don´t know what time.”
“Hmm.” That´s all I can manage at the moment.
“We need more information.”
“Right. We have to contact Germanwings,” I answer.
“I can´t open their website,” Melanie says.
“I´ll try straightaway too.”
“As soon as either of us hears anything we´ll ring each other,” she says.
“OK, Melanie.”
She gives me her work number.
I´m alone, dash around the room, can´t think straight. I realize I have to do something, but what? I´ll contact Germanwings! I find the link but can´t open the website.
Overloaded, I think.
I talk to Melanie again.
“What´s Jens´s flight number?” I want to know.
“I´ve got it right here. 4U9525.”
“And that was from Barcelona to Düsseldorf.” I need to be sure.
“Yes.”
“There´s no way he was on that flight.” I hesitate before continuing: “He was always unlucky…”
“But he always had a guardian angel,” she interrupts.
“Exactly. He does.” Once again I´m convinced that my son is still alive.
“I can´t work anymore. I´m going home now.”
“Do that. It´s better.”
“I´m thinking maybe I should go to the airport,” she continues.
“I don´t know either. Go home first, collect yourself.”
We say goodbye.
I try to reach Jens on his mobile. No answer.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

(To be continued)

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