26 March 2015, Thursday – The second shock

I´m feeling somewhat more stable today.
We are glued to the TV, internet and radio, and comb through the newspapers for information on the latest developments. I can´t bear to read the articles in certain tabloids so I avoid them.
We are never officially informed, but the suspicion is overwhelming that Jens died in the crash. Otherwise he would have rung us back by now or tried to get in touch!
We learn from the media that there will be a press conference with the French prosecutor, Brice Robin, in a few hours, which we cannot miss.
My husband has been thinking about Marseille. We decide to travel there and meet up with Jens´s work colleagues from Düsseldorf. I´m relieved as I want to see the area where our child died. I have to know everything in order to keep my imagination in check, even if it is torture.
A company employee promises to take care of all the arrangements. In the evening we will receive the flight information for Marseille. We pack our bags as we fly tomorrow.
I spend a great deal of time on the phone telling relatives and friends the awful news and explaining what we know. Every call is agony.
My best friend rings me. She lives far away and has known Jens since the day he was born. “Hi, Gitti.”
I manage a strangled hello before my throat closes up.
“You sound really strange. Is everything ok?”
“Jens is dead.”
She screams. “What??? Why??? Jens…dead??!”
I tell her what happened. We cry.
I take long breaks between calls to collect myself. I´m exhausted but relatives and friends have a right to know. Jens was loved by all who knew him and his unconditional zest for life, which showed in his every word and action. Their reactions to his senseless death are all the more powerful. The doorbell rings in the afternoon. Friends are at the door. They´ve heard about the crash from their kids, who are all friends. They are shocked, cry, can barely keep themselves together. We´re glad they drop in to offer their support whenever we need it, as it helps. They leave again soon, which is also good.
We end up missing the press conference because of their visit so we watch it on a news program. The French prosecutor is visibly upset. He is gesturing a great deal as he explains the situation and repeats the most important sentences, namely that that the passengers on the flight were murdered. The co-pilot was apparently depressed and caused the crash deliberately.
I scream “That goddamn bastard!” and have a crying fit. My husband turns pale and puts his arm around me. I keep on sobbing: “He killed Jens! He killed them all – he´s a mass murderer!”
Just then our GP phones to ask how I´m doing. I whimper something into the receiver. She already knows what´s happening and speaks to me soothingly, but her words fall flat. Still, I´m glad she phoned. It´s physically impossible to comfort anyone in a situation like this. I understand this intuitively.
Thomas and his wife visit us with their daughter Sassa. They are also horrified at the latest news…. The little one doesn´t understand what´s happened. She´s too young to know what death means, let alone murder. She laughs and just wants to play.
My daughter-in-law Susi says, “It hurts me so much that she will never have any memory of her Uncle Jens. She´s just two years old.”
I think about how we can keep his memory alive. “We´ll have to talk about Jens often.”
She answers, “Still, she´ll forget him in time. The pictures in her mind will fade until there´s no place for him anymore. She´s just too young.”
Despite our anguish Sassa manages to bring a smile to our faces with her charm.
They had just left when Germanwings phones to give us the flight information for southern France. Tomorrow we fly from the Leipzig-Halle airport to Düsseldorf, where we will spend one night. We will continue on to Munich where we have a connecting flight to Marseille. On the third day a bus will take us to the crash site, which we are only able to see from afar. There is no direct access as the terrain is inaccessible. We accept this and also do not want to disturb the rescue workers. The following day we will return home.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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