31 March 2015, Tuesday – Journey to Le Vernet (6)

ONE WEEK AFTER THE DISASTER
I stand at the breakfast buffet trying to decide what to put on my plate when I see the father of Jens´ Japanese colleague who was killed in the crash. He´s having breakfast with two small children. They smile at me.
How can anyone make them understand that they don´t have a daddy anymore, I think. They don´t yet know what death means. At some point they´ll ask where he is, when he´s coming back. That´s going to be hard for the family, especially his young widow.
I go over and say a friendly Ohaiyô Gozaimasu. Nakamura-san beams back at me and we exchange a few words. Unfortunately my Japanese isn´t good enough for complex conversations.
After breakfast we visit Melanie and her father, where we spend most of the day. We talk a lot about Jens and are sad, but also laugh when we remember funny moments with him. Laugh? I have a guilty conscience but quickly stifle it. Jens would rather see us laughing. Finally we say a long goodbye before we fly back to Leipzig in the evening.
We take a taxi to the hotel. The driver, a Düsseldorf native, explains the sights in his thick Rhineland accent and tells us inside jokes about the region. He can´t possibly know who we are.
Outside people are hunched over, bracing themselves against the storm. Branches crash down on the street. As we get out of the taxi a huge gust of wind blows the door back hard.
Frau Zeisel is waiting for us at the hotel, looking worried. We sit down with her. She says, “Quite a few flights have been cancelled because of the hurricane. We´re not sure about yours. We could take our chances and go to the airport, but it is very likely that you´ll have to wait for ages and your flight could still be cancelled. And if it does leave it will surely be quite bumpy because of the storm.” She takes a big gulp of coffee and continues. “Many trains have come to a standstill. If I were you I´d stay another night.”
After some back and forth we decide to take her advice. It´s better to calm our frazzled nerves.
She takes a deep breath in relief and we discuss tomorrow´s new departure time.
My husband asks, “Could you find out how the little baby elephant is doing?”
She´s happy to do this and obviously knows that a few days ago a baby elephant was born in the Leipzig zoo as she´s from the same state as we are.
We sit and talk for a while. I like her spirit. Eventually she leaves and we stay in the hotel restaurant.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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