We get ready to leave for home and in a way I´m glad about it. These sterile hotel rooms are not for me, no matter how luxurious they are. The air conditioning systems circulate the same bad air, and when there´s no way to open the windows sensitive souls sleep poorly. I would really like to stay in a simple room in Le Vernet.
Before we leave the hotel we want to light candles and lay flowers for Jens at the makeshift memorial in the park.
I´m bothered by an unexpected thought: What´s the point of lighting all these candles? Laying all these flowers? They won´t bring our son back. Aloud I say to Grit, “Jens is never coming back. What do you think about it? Do you believe in life after death?”
She answers, “I volunteer at a children´s hospice. It´s not only sad and we often laugh.” She thinks. “Yes, I believe in an afterlife. Somehow it goes on. I´m convinced.”
I wrinkle my brow, as most people believe and trust in this. If there were only one shred of evidence, I´d cling to it and hope.
I respond, “Since he died I feel that there´s nothing, that he doesn´t exist anymore. I don´t just feel it, I know it.” I emphasise the last three words. “His life has been extinguished for all time. He´s gone forever.”
“You´ll realise that at some point your opinion will change, and you´ll be sure again that it goes on,” she answers. She presses a rose into my hand so I can lay it in front of the candles.
Why am I so negative about this idea? I used to believe in things like this.
Now I don´t believe in anything.
It´s the opposite with my husband. Since the disaster he is convinced that our son lives on in some form and sphere …
We´re on the flight to Frankfurt. Once again I enjoy the clear view above the clouds and mountains. However, I feel strangely unwell.
We begin our descent. Beads of sweat pour off my forehead and my breathing becomes shorter and jagged. Sheer panic takes over. In my imagination I see rocks approaching until the airplane touches them. Jens is on board. He screams and is shaken roughly. All the passengers scream in mortal fear. Masses of rock pierce the wall …
My heart wants to burst. Will I lose consciousness?
The two crew members have their seatbelts fastened and are sitting next to the cockpit. They wouldn´t notice if I collapsed. The idea also makes me nauseous.
I feel my husband´s hand on mine. He´s watching me.
I have to breathe regularly and try to get the situation under control. Like a mantra I count my breathing – in through the nose: “one, two, three,” out through the mouth: “one, two, three, four.” I try to lengthen the exhalation. I can barely control myself as the urge for oxygen is overwhelming. But the feeling that I´m going to faint disappears and the buzzing sound in my head is quieter. Finally the plane´s wheels touch down on the runway.
As we exit we say goodbye to our friends. It´s like they´re behind a gray veil. We rush to make our tight connection at the gate at the other end of the building. We hurry down the moving walkways and people move out of the way. We reach the plane on time and take off a few minutes later.
Right at the beginning I order red wine and quickly have it refilled. I have never drunk alcohol so quickly, let alone wine. Appropriately tipsy and with no health problems, I make it through the descent and landing.
We are finally home.
© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum