27-28 June 2015, Saturday/Sunday – The grave

08I lay in bed in the darkness thinking agonising thoughts about death and how it was when Jens was still alive. They keep me from sleeping. But even nights that seem endless do pass.
My head is throbbing as I get up and do the normal, necessary morning stuff. It´s good that reflexes control us which trigger our muscles so we can function. I hardly have any energy as the memory of the funeral paralyses me. We are deeply distraught and can barely comprehend the funeral. It should have been our turn and not Jens at the age of 37.
Everyday life makes demands on us and goes on mercilessly whether or not we are ready. My skin protests by forming blisters which burn. “Probably an autoimmune disorder,“ the doctor commented.
We spent the day after the funeral with Hans, Annemie and Melanie and I showed them some of the sights. The mood was depressed. Melanie´s mother kept drying her eyes. She was crying silently. Jens had and has a big place in her heart. When he visited he brought sunshine into her house.
Although being together was exhausting due to the special situation, it did us good. It gives me strength and I find comfort in our conversations.
Today they returned to Xanten/Düsseldorf.
For the first time since the funeral I stand at Jens´s grave, fully aware of what´s going on. This mound of earth is a sign of his death and everyone can see it. The status is absolute, final: Jens is dead. Any hope of a reunion was buried with him.
The lush colours of flowers laid yesterday by the mourners at and around the grave are visible from afar. Jens liked colourful things and most people know that.
His best friend lovingly arranged the flowers on his grave. Their friendship intensified during kilometres of bike tours through Germany and the Tyrolean Alps. Together they enjoyed the beauty of nature.

A small bicycle, an oversized chestnut and a fake mushroom peek out from behind the floral arrangements and shine in the sunlight as proof. Bright red, shiny plastic strawberries are a nod to the strawberry parties on our balcony which we also invited the young people to. And of course there´s the plastic-wrapped photo of the two “Jenses.“ I read “Thank you for your friendship“ and “I will never forget you and the wonderful times we had together“ on the ornamental bands holding the plants together.
The flowers we put on his grave yesterday are decorated with a wide beige ribbon which says “We miss your joyfulness.“

We sprinkle the floral arrangements with water and my husband puts a bar of Jens´s favourite chocolate on his grave, an old brand from the GDR.
We stay for a long time. As a farewell we raise our hands in greeting and say: “Bye, Jens.“

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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