Going to bed in the evenings is futile. I barely sleep. Last night my dreams were pierced once again by an irregular heartbeat. If I manage to fall asleep I´m awakened by a nightmare, my pulse racing, and have difficulty breathing.
“Why are we expected to meet Jens in Berlin? The Germanwings representatives at the emergency pastoral care meeting for family members promised us that he would arrive at the Leipzig-Halle airport! Why aren´t we entitled to meet his casket with dignity and in private at the airport? The family members in North Rhine Westphalia were!!“
So many questions pound through my head, keeping me awake. I toss and turn and finally get up to write a letter of complaint to our lawyer. I begin:
“Is our son Jens a second class victim?
The families from Haltern in North Rhine Westphalia can bury their loved ones in peace, yet we are being forced to fight for the same thing.
The back and forth with Germanwings is dreadful and we have run out of patience. Furthermore, we have to press for all relevant information or else nothing happens….“ This is going to be a long letter.
I switch off the computer and sigh. I´m doing a bit better. Back in bed, I´m up again. The day finally starts.
We inform the funeral home director that Berlin is the new arrival destination.
Soon we receive word from Melanie in Paris that she has the opportunity to accompany Jens´s casket from Marseille to Berlin. She already knows the flight details. The airline has also briefed the funeral home in detail.
I edit the letter I wrote last night, take out the personal insults towards Germanwings and send it to the lawyer as well as the government-appointed ombudsman for relatives of the victims.
We ring the funeral home to give them more precise information, which they do not have although the Care Center supposedly passed it on. We stay calm as we are well used to this. As soon as we put the phone down it rings again.
A miracle happens: We find out from the Care Center that Jens´s remains will be returned directly to Leipzig. He will arrive on the following Monday.
Sorry? Have we misheard? We will also be able to use the airport chapel to meet his casket.
“We will do everything you want.“
We thought we were dreaming. The complaint I sent the lawyer three hours earlier was quite effective indeed.
We have a long conversation with the funeral home director. She received all the information she needed from Germanwings and also took the opportunity to complain about how rudely she was treated by the Care Center. (That would have been intense as she is tough but has a warm personality.)
She continues. It won´t be possible to transfer Jens´s casket directly from the hangar to us.
As the airport chapel is too small for a casket, Lufthansa has organised an extra space, shielded from the public, where we can meet Jens privately with candles, flowers or whatever we like. Funeral home staff are going to take a look at the space.
We make an appointment to discuss the details.
Quite satisfied, we put the phone down. It rings again immediately and it´s someone from Germanwings top management. She asks if everything is now in order and apologises several times. She is as stunned about what happened as we are.
Melanie has been informed about the surprising development and flies back to Düsseldorf. On Sunday she would like to fly to Marseille to accompany Jens´s casket.
Our heads are reeling.
© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum