17 June 2015, Wednesday – The man we ask to deliver the eulogy

Funeral preparations are in full swing. One by one I tick things off the list I have made on a slip of paper.
We would like to have a brief post-funeral gathering for family and friends. I´m sure that immediately after burying our son I will have no strength left to talk to people, even if I like them. Nonetheless I relent. I phone a restaurant a few minutes´ walk from the cemetery which was recommended by my elderly aunt and make a reservation for nearly 50 people.
As much as we were tormented by the limbo between the murderous Germanwings disaster and the return of Jens´s casket with all its associated misery, this is now a new nightmare. The funeral plans are taking shape and becoming reality. It simply cannot be that we have to bury our child. For me this is an unforgivable flaw in the system. It feels wrong. I have to wake up from this bad dream as I feel like I´m going to snap.
Melanie is planning an additional memorial service in Düsseldorf at the end of August for all of Jens´s friends who can´t make it to his funeral in Leipzig.
She stays with us for a while as the man we have asked to deliver the eulogy is coming by today. Tomorrow she flies back to North Rhine Westphalia.
We decide to have lunch in an idyllic restaurant just twenty minutes´ drive from us.
The sun is shining and it´s warm so we sit outside on the terrace, surrounded by a forest of ancient, gnarled trees. They provide peace and shade.
The beautiful weather beckons. After we eat we take a walk through the protected meadowlands, which does us good. We´re amazed at how long we´ve been walking and downright proud of our efforts.
During our walk we see two storks nests with storks in each, busy rearing their young. Even that reminds me of Jens. Scenes from his childhood appear in my mind´s eye. It just hurts, so much …
We go home and wait for the man who will speak at Jen´s funeral. Thomas also manages to get away from the office.
The bell rings at the exact time. I take out the key points which I had to write down as I suffer from forgetfulness which is starting to become chronic.
After he expresses his condolences and we talk about the terrible event, he pulls a thick A4 size notebook out of a leather briefcase and opens it. Slowly he takes a fountain pen and twists off the cap. As if in slow motion he places it precisely behind the notebook which he adjusts again.
He asks questions and we answer, telling him what we would like to hear in the eulogy. He often repeats what he hears to make sure that he has understood the facts correctly. His handwriting seems to be measured but he writes unusually quickly in his lined notebook. A year ago it was on this table. At that time he took notes after the death of my mother.
Melanie hands him a CD with music by The Piano Guys which she has chosen for the funeral service and that she played for us before. We all like it. It suits Jens and he liked the music.
After explaining how the funeral will proceed he leaves.
We sit together for a while.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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