30 March 2015, Monday – Journey to Le Vernet (5)

I wake up as tired as when I went to bed and look at my surroundings sleepily. Where am I? Why? I screw up my eyes until my body jolts awake as usual. I just can´t get used to it. “Jens is dead! We were in the mountains, near the site of the awful disaster.” The thought flashes through my head. Outside the Mediterranean sun is shining brightly, illuminating the entire room.
We go to breakfast and join Christa and Alexander who are already at the table.
“Are you feeling a little better?” Christa asks.
I say yes but begin to sob deeply and she hugs me. Her scrambled eggs get cold. She also discreetly wipes tears from her face.
We stay together for a while after the meal.
I say, “I can imagine that this assignment is difficult. It must be really depressing when people cry and mourn so much.”
My husband nods.
She answers, “We´re ok. The main thing is that we are able to help a bit. We volunteer for this service and are specially trained…” She rests her gaze on us and continues speaking. “Yes, how can I explain this. I helped families of the tsunami victims of that horrible seaquake in the Indian Ocean. That wasn´t easy.” She pushes the dirty dishes aside. “That was hard, but everything is different now.”
I look at her questioningly.
“How can I say this….the Germanwings crash is part of us. It was one of our own, a colleague, who killed so many people.” She pounds her chest. “All of us are so deeply affected and want to help, you have to believe me.”
We immediately believe her.
“I was always proud of the Lufthansa yellow and I still am. Proud to belong. I love working for this airline,” she adds.
Alexander concurs quietly: “Yes.”
She looks at the clock. “We have to get going.”
They stand up. “Meet us in the foyer later.”
“See you later.”
We watch them walk away until they´re out of sight.
This disaster has affected everyone involved and the scars will remain forever.
We fly to Munich, then on to Düsseldorf. Jens´ colleagues are waiting for us after we check out as they want to say goodbye. I try to speak some more Japanese. They laugh. Jens´ assistant hugs me. The president of the company greets us with a handshake. His sad eyes gleam.
We are only alone for a short time before Christa and Alexander collect us and take us upstairs. They open the door to a room and we sit down at a table.
“I can´t just let you go,” she says.
We drink a cup of coffee together, have a little something to eat and chat about this and that.
Finally we say goodbye. They call a taxi for us and we wave until we drive around the corner.
We have met two exceptional people, will probably never see them again. They were there when we needed them and stayed in the background when we wanted to be alone. All this without words. They have good intuition.
We get out of the taxi. It´s stormy and the trees are being blown about quite a bit.
We take our bags and go to the reception.
Frau Zeisel, the first person assigned to help us, is waiting in the lobby area. She says hello and is glad to see us. We tell her about Le Vernet, the monument, the mountains and the empathetic French. She discusses our return flight tomorrow.
We don´t want to spend the evening alone in our hotel room so we find a restaurant and watch the people.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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