I write to Johannes, one of the relatives who lost his daughter in the disaster:
“I had my third appointment with the psychologist. It´s getting more and more exhausting. She´s helping me deal with the events but it has brought up very powerful feelings. She´ll apply for 25 hours of therapy for me …
She says that our brains block out a lot at first (a protective mechanism) which can be released gradually over time by feelings and memories.
It´s obviously hard but necessary in order to come to terms with what happened.“
Without knowing it, Frau Blume, the psychologist, lay the foundation for my blog Seelenrisse – A Tear In My Soul. During one of our appointments I told her that before the crash I liked to write but since then haven´t been able to develop any ideas for short stories. I explain, “My head is not free and all of my thoughts revolve around Jens. Everything else is a pointless waste.“
She says, “Try to write about the day of the crash – how it started, what you did, etc. It´s just a suggestion. It´s fine if you don´t want to.“
“I´ll have to wait and see. I probably won´t be able to,“ I murmer. To be a bit more positive I add, “I´ll try.“
I´m unsettled as I drive home. This is the first time I´ve got behind the wheel since Jens died. My husband has taken on the role of chauffeur. The traffic situation is difficult but I´m an experienced driver. I have to start sometime.
The light turns green. I accelerate, the car splutters and to make matters worse various symbols on the dashboard light up, indicating that something is terribly wrong. I had no problems on the journey here but now my car seems to have broken down. Instead of speeding up, it jerks down the ring road slowly. People are honking impatiently behind me.
“I have to stop, but where?“ I try to control the situation before it gets out of hand. I´m on a main road in the city centre where it´s a huge problem to pull over to the kerb, so I disobey a traffic sign that says “Drive Straight Ahead“ and turn into a side street. I switch off the engine in a no-parking zone. The main thing is that I´m no longer blocking traffic on the ring. I phone the automobile association and they end up having to tow me to a garage. The mishap was caused by the ignition coil.
Of course my car had to break down. Whenever I´m in a bad mood, it sometimes happens that car park barriers don´t work, the door to the washing machine won´t open, a smoke detector in a room has a false alarm, etc.
It´s a fact that the first day I drive alone could have gone more smoothly.
After I get home with my repaired car and manage to calm down, I tell my husband about the psychologist´s idea. Spontaneously we pool our memories. I wade through a fog which clouds my view of that horrible day.
I open my laptop. The internet tells me that the federal government has appointed a special representative to act as the main contact for the relatives of all the crash victims.
Germanwings informs me that the burial permits and death certificates to be issued by the mayor of Prads-Haute-Bléone (the community where the crash took place) are required in order for the victims´ remains to be returned. A form is attached which asks questions about the deceased´s religion, where we would like the casket to be delivered, the funeral home and type of burial. I gather from all this that we will be able to bury our Jens soon. The thought churns me up.
I try to distract myself and open the word processing programme. I position my fingers on the keyboard. “What should I write? How did 24 March 2015 begin?“ The first letters slowly turn into words. Sentences come into being. While I´m writing the remaining fog lifts and frees up my mind. The blood rises to my head and my forehead and cheeks glow. I bang the wisps of fog away on the keyboard. My memories are agonising and I have to take a break, but just a short one. The urge to keep writing is overwhelming and continues until I´ve put down everything that comes to mind about that horrible day.
I cry and switch off the computer.
© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum