25 June 2015, Thursday – Sympathy

Times passes relentlessly. The funeral is tomorrow and we are terribly afraid of it. What´s Jens doing in a grave? He belongs among the living. Unfortunately screaming and crying is pointless. It´s the way it is.
People´s compassion is impressive. Friends who can´t make it to the funeral for various reasons have let us know that they want to think about Jens and light candles.
I find some comfort in this.
For example, I read in a letter from Japan written by our longtime friend Seiji-san:

“… Jens was really a good and warm-hearted man … When I think of him I always remember his bright smile … Without a doubt he got his beautiful soul from his parents. No one understands why you have to endure this suffering … I am very sorry that I cannot come to the funeral. However, tomorrow I would like to think about Jens at 4pm Japanese time (9.00am in Germany) and pray for him, perhaps at a service area on the Tohoku motorway.“

His German is good. I know that he has a long drive ahead of him. I am sure that at the time of the funeral he will stop the car and he and his family will pray for Jens. He will do that. I am touched. Japan is so far away.

A friend writes:

“… In the last three months not one day has passed when I haven´t thought of you.
I will be thinking of you all day tomorrow; I wish you a lot of strength!“

I know that every day she lights a candle for Jens at the Aachen cathedral.

Yesterday we contacted the stonemason. A smaller stone is to be placed next to my parents´ gravestone which harmonises with the colour and writing. Unfortunately a suitable sample is stored at another branch of the company which we would like to visit after the funeral. We want to thoroughly examine the stone for Jens.
In the afternoon we decide to go to the zoo as we´re all riled up inside before the funeral tomorrow. We´ve had season tickets for a few weeks so we can make new friends at a reduced price. Maybe the animals can distract us a bit. But I was way off the mark as I constantly make references to Jens, death and pain – even at the zoo:
We stand in front of the elephant pen and I remember that at the end of March the 6-day old female baby elephant had to be put down. It was very ill. The zookeepers gave the mother the opportunity to mourn her offspring, to say goodbye. One photo received a great deal of media attention: The elephants stretched out their trunks and touched the little dead elephant that lay in front of them. This image deeply stirred up my emotions.
Scientists claim that they were only distraught because other elephants didn´t show any emotion. However, I´m convinced that they also mourn. I have read that elephants try to visit the place again and again where their companion died. There are parallels here.
In the evening the doorbell rings. Some neighbours are outside, one carrying a large floral arrangement. I ask them in. They only found out that Jens was on the doomed flight through the newspaper obituary. They are shocked and manage a few words of sympathy.
“I´m sorry that my wife couldn´t be here but she immediately breaks into uncontrollable tears at any mention of the subject. Our daughter was on that same flight to Barcelona and back just two weeks before the crash.“
“It could have been any of us,“ a neighbour adds.
They hand us the floral arrangement so we can lay it on Jens´s grave tomorrow.
I am stunned and very touched.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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