21 April 2015, Tuesday – Second Journey to Le Vernet (1)

We would like to go to Le Vernet again in order to visit our son in the mountains of southern France, this time to memorialize him in serenity and prayer. On our first journey we unfortunately had very little time as we were here on the Japanese´s terms, so now we decide to fly back with good friends. We meet at Frankfurt airport to change planes because everyone is arriving from different parts of Germany.
One of my friends has known Jens since the day he was born.
Despite our arrangement with the Germanwings Care Center, we don´t find anyone in Leipzig or Frankfurt who is assigned to accompany us. We can cope with that, we´ll manage. The main thing is that we´ll be collected in southern France and taken to the hotel which is not directly in Marseille like last time but closer to the airport.
We have barely landed in Frankfurt when my mobile buzzes with a message from our friends, letting us know where they´re waiting.
We hurry through the seemingly endless airport as we have a tight connection. Out of breath, we reach the gate and our friends jump up as soon as they spot us. This is the first time we are seeing each other since the catastrophic crash and we hug for a very long time. They are shaken. We pull out our tissues.
We can´t talk much. The ticket counter opens and we board.

15-04-21_-cote-dazur_verkl_ausgOnce again we glide over villages, fields, mountains and eventually along a part of the Côte d’Azur, finally landing at the Marseille Provence airport. I look around to try to find someone who is supposed to collect us as we join the stream of deplaning passengers pushing towards the baggage carousel.
Only after our bags are circulating on the carousel do I see two people at the other end wearing name tags with the three letters SAT (Special Assistant Team) around their necks and their name displayed underneath in small print. I´m relieved. We approach them and introduce ourselves. Grit and Holger, who normally work as ground crew for Lufthansa, will accompany us in the following days.
We chat while we´re waiting for our luggage. They grab our bags and take them outside, where a vehicle is waiting to take us to the hotel. It´s on the other side of a huge car park which extends in front of the building and that we could walk to.
In the lobby, SAT members offer us something to drink and explain the plan for tomorrow. We also receive name tags which we put around our necks, giving us access to a separate room where we can eat in the hotel restaurant. Two stylish fellows sit in front of the entrance and check that no unauthorized person enters.
Grit asks if we would like to light candles and lay flowers for Jens in the hotel park. A spot has been arranged where family members can remember the victims. We are happy about the offer as it is exactly four weeks ago that our son´s precious life was brutally taken from him on horror flight 4U9525.
We check in and find our room, where we unpack our few things and freshen up. At the agreed time we meet in the space reserved for family members in order to eat something and spend the evening together. We sit at a round table at the window. The darkness of night increasingly suppresses the dusk.
We are the only family members who are going to the mountains tomorrow.
It´s comfortable to be around friends.
Grit comes in. “Do you want to have the flowers now?”
“Yes,” I answer. “Let´s go outside.”
“I´ll take the candles with us too,” she adds.
We stand up and she leads us to the small, makeshift memorial.
No one says a word. Silently we light votive candles and place them next to the ones that have gone out.
We stand for a long time. Far from home we remember Jens. The pain is endless. My friend puts her arm around me and we cry.


© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum


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