25 March 2015, Wednesday – Breakdown

I wake up early and suddenly have goosebumps. The reality shocks me, right to my very core: There was a plane crash yesterday! And Jens is on the passenger list.
This early morning thought will haunt me for weeks. It is a shock every time.
The day starts — who knows what it will bring?
Melanie rushes back to the Düsseldorf airport. We talk to her frequently but there is no news.
We switch the TV on and off for updates:

Terrorism has been ruled out – an eight minute descent to death – the jet slammed into a mountain in the area of the Massif des Trois Évêchés (the three bishops) – no direct road access – the terrain is rugged, steep and snow-covered – the violence of the crash leaves little hope for survivors – arrangements are being made for the families of the victims to gather near the crash site.

Melanie rings to let us know that the company in Düsseldorf where Jens worked is planning a trip to the site for the day after tomorrow. The staff would be glad if we could join them. Jens and his Japanese colleague were on a business trip — the company lost two of its employees on the flight.
“We have to go to southern France with them, to the crash site,” I immediately think.
I cry a great deal and murmer over and over: “My child is dead. Our Jens is dead. Our Jens is dead. My child is …” The words seem to be caught in an endless loop. I can´t stop.
It´s difficult to catch my breath and my heart is racing. Nonetheless I tell my husband that I absolutely have to go to Marseille. He objects but I´ll get my way!
I lie on the couch. My condition deteriorates to the point where my husband phones our GP, who comes over right away. She holds my hand for a long while and tries to comfort me even though her immediate reaction is shock at the incomprehensible events. To calm me she puts several Diazepam tablets on the table along with some high blood pressure medication to bring it under control.
My husband accompanies her to the door and I hear them whispering in the corridor. He´s surely getting some medical advice. At least someone´s staying on top of things. He for one seems calm and composed. Probably hasn´t been able to fathom what´s happened. Have I? Doubtful.
She was barely out the door when I say to him, “We´re going to Marseille, to the crash site.”
“What do you want to do there? Especially in your condition!”
“Our child is dead. I want to be close to him. We have to go there.”
Silence. “I´ll be better soon.” I´m sure of it.
My mobile rings. It´s Jens! My hand shakes as I pick it up and his name comes up on the display. I put the phone down, disappointed. It´s only a text message that the person I called is now available. I couldn´t reach him yesterday. My husband rings back anyway but there is no answer. Perhaps the rescue workers found his smart phone??
I am nauseous and vomit, then doze on the couch until Thomas comes over with Susi, our daughter- in-law, and our two-year-old granddaughter Sassa. That´s good. I get up and go into the living room where everyone´s sitting around the small table. We talk and switch on the TV constantly as it is our only source of information!

The pilots see the wreckage from the helicopter – the victims include 16 students and two teachers from Haltern – everything is apparently pulverised, says a firefighter.

Pulverised? Does the announcer mean the victims or the plane? Jens pulverized???
“I have to go to Marseille!”
My family try to talk me out of it.
“I can be with him there.”
They are not convinced.
We end up going. Tomorrow I´ll be better and I speak calmly with my husband. I could fly alone but would prefer not to.
We spend the entire evening in front of the TV, watching one special report after another.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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