Friday 25.May 2012
It was around 8h00 pm.The telephone rang. Hans answered his cell and talked for a few moments. Everything was still fine. The kids, Tyler and Ethean, were still running around playing. Michelle and I were laughing and talking, Ralph and Charles most probably played darts. The fire was scorching, the meat already spiced. We were having an ordinary Friday evening braai. Up to the point when the telephone conversation was over, than the nightmare began.
Now it happened, Hans said, they rolled the car. It sounded like he made me responsible for it in a way. He always sounds like that when something out of his control happens, or maybe it is just my imaginations, my way of responding to bad news. My perception of feeling offended, of feeling maybe I could have been preventing this.
Time stood still for a moment. I was sitting down, asking what happened. Hans could not tell much, he said Ute told him that the car rolled, Sven was fine, Matthias was injured, they already called the ambulance and are on their way to the farm, half way Okahandja.
Ambulance, ambulance, ambulance! So it is serious, I thought. I started to cry.
Michelle tried to call Matthias on his cell. Sven answered. He said Matthias is lying on the ground, freezing and in pain.
Is he awake, can he talk? Michelle was hearing Matthias’s voice for the last time, when Sven handed the phone over to him then. He said he cannot talk much, as the pain is too severe and he is freezing. Michelle ordered Sven to get everything he could find and cover Matthias with it. It was not much I suppose as they only wanted to take the farm boy and his child to the main road to Otjiwarongo, which would normally only take about half an hour, before they would be back at the farm.
When Michelle told me, I started to cry even harder. I guess deep inside I knew this was very, very serious. It was as I could feel his agony. It took my breath away.
I want to drive to the accident scene as well, I cried. Why did Ute not fetch us immediately, after she heard about the accident and took us with to the scene?
The WHYS started than and wouldn’t even stop now, 19 month after Matthias’s death, accompanied by IF ONLY.
Each of us grabbed a jersey or pullover, it was May and the winter in full blast, my poor child lying on the freezing ground somewhere between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo on a gravel road in such a pain, he couldn’t even talk on the phone, another stab into my hurting heart. Where were the angels, why would God do something like this, when I always prayed to them to bring my kids home safely? I started to doubt their existence. What did I do to deserve this? Why Matthias? I was overwhelmed by anxiety and suspicion.
Half way from Windhoek to Okahandja I sobbed. Why isn’t Ute calling? She promised to call as soon as their neighbour farmer, who was about 15 minutes away from their farm, would arrive at the scene, to bring warm blankets for Matthias. It couldn’t take so long, it was over an hour after the first call already and nobody informed us about anything. Michelle offered to call Ute. She said they are only halfway from Okahandja to Otjiwarongo. The farm is about 70 km to the right before Otjiwarongo. To mine opinion they should have arrived already. I felt something is fishy here. Up to today I do not know if that was only my imagination running wild with me, but it felt as we were deprived of the truth than.
We stopped in Okahandja to get some petrol. Even Hans was alarmed now and shouting why is nobody calling us. He grabbed the phone and called Toni. No answer. He tried Ute, no answer. Damn what the hell is happening there at the scene? We drove on. I was sitting at the back rocking back and fro like a child trying to get some comfort by doing this. I banged my head against the front seat screaming I can’t take it any longer, I can’t stand this pain! I felt awful, like someone was grabbing and pulling my heart out. I so wished the whole time, that Matthias would be still alive, when I would arrive. I wanted to hold him, to keep him warm and safe in my arms and was still so far away from him, feeling his discomfort, his incredible pain, trying to hold on for me. Deep in my heart and soul I sensed the truth, he wouldn’t live. He would die.
I glanced through the window and watched the stars. I knew I had to do this now. Even though I so wanted that my child would live, survive, I thought I would sit on his hospital bed forever, until he is fine again, I knew it was time to pray. And I started:
Dear God, angels, guardian angels of Matthias, whoever is responsible now, you may take him home now. Take him immediately, as I cannot stand that he is in terrible pain any longer, just waiting for me to see him living. Please take him Home, take him now, I want him to be without pain and in peace. I somehow will survive this, I am not sure how, but please release him from this agony. Embrace him into your wings Archangel Michael, keep him save and in peace. I do not want to be selfish anymore, as I do not know how to stand the anguish of losing him, but I am his mother, I have to protect him and save him of all the suffering, I am ready to take over, I have to, as long as he is released of his torture. Take him now, please. Amen.
Suddenly I felt an inexplicable feeling warming my heart and spreading through my entire body. I thought how is this possible, feeling so peaceful, knowing that my son just died. DIED? Yes I knew, the angels have taken him to heaven right in that instant. He was gone, dead, but free of his horrible pain. And slowly the awe-inspiring feeling of unconditional love gave way to the excruciating truth: Matthias is dead… I lost my son,…he is gone… I will never see or hear him again…
The truth, the pain, the anxiety hit me with such a force, it took my breath away. I began to weep again like I could never stop again.
The telephone rang. It was Frank. He was looking after a farm in the opposite direction of where we were heading. Michelle had informed him about the accident, before we drove off in Windhoek and he was alarmed and worried about what was happening. We could not tell him much than, but Michelle promised to phone him as soon as we would arrive at the accident scene.
Time was dragging by. A little spark of hope flamed up in my heart. Maybe he wasn’t dead at all. Maybe it was only my imagination before. I looked up and saw that we were at the junction to turn off right onto the gravel road to the farm. Hans stopped.
He phoned Toni and this time he answered and said, we should wait there, as the ambulance was there and it would drive to Otjiwarongo soon and we could just follow.
Ambulance? So he is alive, my head screamed. But my heart said, no, you know that he is gone with the angels already. No, the ambulance will drive him to the hospital now, we have to follow.
Time went by and no ambulance came. I got really panicky, knowing deep down in my heart that this could not be true, that the angels have taken him to heaven in that instant where I felt the unconditional love. But my ego could not accept and was hoping.
Phone again, I shouted, what is taking them so long? Hans phoned. He just said ok, we are coming. He turned right onto the awful gravel road. What is going on? I asked. I don’t know, Hans said and I knew he was lying.
It was only a few minute down the road to the accident scene, but it felt like we were driving even longer as we already did. Then I saw a blue light, red lights and as we came closer, I could see people standing in the bush down the left side of the road. Hans stopped and as I climbed out of the car, all the people standing there turned their heads towards me and I yelled, more to myself, to my voices in my head, see, I knew he is dead already. I started running toward them. Where is my son, where is Matthias? Ute and Hans stopped me holding me tight. I tried to escape. I wanted to see Matthias, but they kept holding me back.
Matthias is not with us anymore, Ute said.
I know that already, said a voice in my head.
I want to be with my son, where is Matthias, let me go, I screamed.
He is gone. He is no longer with us, Claudia. He is dead. You cannot see him.
I screamed, I wailed, I howled, I yelled. I was hysterically. Constantly trying to get out of the grip of Ute and Hans, I wanted to go to Matthias.
Mama, Mama, Mama, where are you. I was yelling into the night, looking up to the stars. Mama, Mama, Mama.
Why are you screaming Mama, she is not dead, Matthias is dead, you should scream Matthias, not Mama, said the voice in my head.
I could hear someone shrieking, yelling and moaning so loud that I got goose bumps all over.
Was it me?
Stop screaming, look around, Ralph is standing at the car, he is weeping, Sven is sitting in the car, also weeping, you gonna make it more difficult for them when you behave like this. Stop now!
I looked around. Michelle was on the phone, talking most probably to Frank. How will he cope, all alone without his family around him, without me, holding him?
Don’t be kidding, If you lose it like this, you are not any help at all for him.
I ignored the voice in my head. I have never felt any pain like this before, even when I lost my first son Sascha 3 days after birth because of a heart defect. I felt if I would stop screaming, I would not be able to breath anymore.
I don’t know how long I was fighting the arms holding me tight. I don’t know how long I kept screaming at the stars, calling my mother. I felt all the eyes of the people staring at me with pity. It made it even worse. The staring made me feel uncomfortable, asking me to stop.
Stop looking at me, the voice began again, I cannot stop I have to scream for my son. Just stop looking. I will continue screaming, no matter what you might think.
Michelle came closer, trying to comfort me. Ute said, I should not go to Matthias, while taking his last breathes his face, arms, hands….swelled up and he was not looking good.
I want to be with him, see him one last time, I pleaded.
Michelle said she would go and look at him for me, removing his necklaces and bracelet.
She came back, shaking her head, meaning I should not go at all.
Is my son looking like a monster now?
Can’t I hold his hand for a last time, please?
Michelle talked to the medic and they covered Matthias with a blanket, just leaving his right hand uncovered. I walked slowly to the ambulance. I saw his arm. Still covered by the blue jersey he had worn this morning,
I could still see him standing in the doorway that morning, typing something into his cell, before he left. An hour later he came back with Toni’s car, as he had forgotten something for the riffle, they intended to shoot game on the farm over the long weekend. When he went back outside into the car, he hooted and asked me to close the gate, as he left the remote in his own car. He waved….this was the last time I saw him alive.
I saw his hand. It looked a little swollen. Actually it looked like a little chubby baby hand. Everybody was watching me, ready to jump at me, should I try to uncover Matthias completely. But by now I was so petrified to even look closer at his hand. I wouldn’t dare to uncover him completely. I could not bring myself to go closer, the words echoed in my mind .
He is swollen up, he is not looking nice, just remember him as you saw him last, I turned around, not having touched his hand at all. I was scared now.
I cannot do this. I started screaming again.
Can anybody give this woman an injection to calm her down?
No, we are not authorised to do that. She has to drive to the hospital for that.
I don’t want to calm down, but if you are not allowed to give injections, what are you doing here? Aren’t you medics? Aren’t you here to help? Have you given Matthias any pain killing medicine at all, or did you leave him to suffer in agony up to his last breath? Why for God’s sake are you here then?
Just to lay the dead body into the ambulance, not allowing his mother to even see and touch her son for the last time? Instead scaring her with horror imaginations to stop her from this last honour she could have given to him?
Why wouldn’t Hans allowed me, fight for me to see my son for a last time? No, he even helped to keep me away. To protect me? From what? My own son?
I surrendered. I helplessly walked slowly to my car, touching Ralph on his shoulder. He was still crying, holding Matthias’s leather band with the nyami nyami in his hands. The silver necklace was burning into my flesh around my neck. Still warm from his body? Or was it cold, as he was lying more than 4 hours after the accident happened on the cold, cold ground fighting death, before the ambulance came to help him. Why were they so late? Why didn’t they send a helicopter to help my serious injured son?
Questions still haunting me today, lingering around, recurring each time I see an ambulance.
Begrudged I closed the car door, waiting for Hans to climb in and drive home. Why wouldn’t he persist driving to the hospital with Matthias or the police station to confirm and give details and information to them himself? Even when I agreed to go home? He should have known me better, should have known that this would mean the world to me. But I kept quiet. I was too tired to fight anymore. Maybe it was better to drive straight home, as Frank was waiting there for us. He drove home in the middle of the night just to be there for us.
Home – what would our home be worse now? My family torn apart, forever one empty chair reminding me that my family, our home not being complete anymore.
I opened my eyes and looked outside the window. Suddenly my attention was drawn towards the traffic signs beside the road. Whenever we came closer to a sign a strange light was sparkling around the sign. Was it my imagination, the tears in my eyes, or the head lights? I wasn’t sure. But it was repeating itself whenever I looked up when a sign was close by. It felt somehow like the unconditional love of the angles I felt before. Not so intense, but it was similar.
At this instant, writing this just now, I know that Matthias was intending to make me aware of the signs he would through into my life from that moment on. And I have received multiple signs since then in thousand different forms. But I come to this later.
Whenever we drove through the night afterwards I looked closely at the traffic signs coming up. I never ever have seen the strange glimmering around the signs since that night.
Finally we were home again. I opened the door, saw Frank sitting at the dining table and started to cry again. He stood up, took me into his arms, holding me very , very close and for the first time since the phone call I felt a little bit of compassion and understanding. I was glad that he immediately packed his bag and came home from the farm in the middle of the night, not taking any loopholes or finding excuses not to be there for me. He would stand up for me fighting my fights for me from that moment on, as I wasn’t in a condition to do it for myself.
to be continued….
Copyright Claudia Schönmetzler 2013