What a beautiful day. Everyone laughed and cried. Mostly at the same time. A colleague danced at the grave as promised. “I kiss your eyes,” was written on the grave ribbon of his girlfriends. This feeling of gratitude was shared by all those who were there to say goodbye to Janis, around 100 people. And so the saying on the ribbon of his work colleagues also fit: “But I did everything right.”
They had always lived with death. Julie, his sister, Christine, his mother, and his father, Heiko, who died seven years ago. For three weeks they spent many hours at his bedside in the hospice, playing cards, laughing, crying. At the last moment Heiko stayed alone because he wanted it that way, but he looked beautiful after his death. And they always spoke of him as if he were still with them. Because love stays, even if the person leaves. Their grandmother also lived with them until they died, despite their dementia, which was a lot of fun for Julie and Janis, because they loved being childish themselves. But also very precocious at times.
When Janis wanted to move out for the first time, he was five. After an argument about his untidy room, he announced: “I’m moving out.” – “Then it has to be like this,” remarked the mother. After thinking about it for half an hour, he came back from his room: “If you give me five marks, I’ll stay.” “You can’t buy love,” Christine replied. So he retreated back to the children’s room, came back with a packed backpack and the sister’s hand to reinforce his threat: “We’re both going!” The mother was very sorry, but she didn’t pay. And Janis realized that he had to earn his money in other ways.
As a student, he was initially undecided about how to use his talents. So he repeated the first grade. For years he toyed with the idea of becoming a prison cook until he discovered the wonderful world of electronics. He could disassemble everything, but putting it back together was difficult at first. But the alarm he had installed in the children’s room to catch the tooth fairy worked perfectly – with the sister.
Since there was never much money in the house, he delivered the community newspaper early, cleaned, worked as a waitress and decided not to take his Abitur, because there was good money to be made in the restaurants, despite the stinginess of those who had a lot but never gave tips . Janis was different. He always spent money generously, one way or another, they said all you had to do was run after Janis and pick up the money he loses and you’ll get rich. “Sometimes you lose, sometimes the others win.” This is how he commented on his occasional clumsiness. A bunch of keys could get lost or his Vespa, but he was reliable at work. Then something came up with media technology, and he was very successful at it. Not so in love. He always wanted to have his peace and quiet. A romantic constellation in his mind: when he was sitting at the computer and his girlfriend was watching television. He was livelier with his buddies, he used to party on Mykonos, but he preferred the regulars’ table, always in the same place, on the same day.
Sports: rather no. The exercise bike in his apartment was shut down. He went to the rifle club to shoot, little running wild boars, he remained a child there, just like with cars. Actually, he had always wanted an Opel Manta, but it ended up being an Audi, a well-motorized one. He loved driving it to car races and he loved cleaning it. Woe betide someone tapped against the pane from the inside.
In many things he was casual, in others very controlled. Also for health reasons. He would have almost died at the age of ten if he had drunk the bottle of lemonade after swimming lessons. An undiscovered diabetes. He learned early to inject himself. “It’s my diabetes,” he declared from the start, releasing the others from responsibility.
Which was not so easy for his sister Julie. The two had always looked out for each other. Together they were confirmed in the Evangelical Church, together they organized youth work, which included activities about which it was agreed to remain silent. Through the church they had also come to believe that there is such a thing as a soul and life after death and a duty to help even those you don’t like. “I’m a Christian,” Janis explained to his mother when she asked why he included even the last unsympathetic in his care.
Together they were not afraid of anything in the family. Then Corona came. He didn’t want his mother to get infected and banned her from going out. He brought sacks full of pasta, canned goods, got the best masks, organized the earliest possible vaccination and withdrew more and more himself.
Are you still alive, his mother would call from time to time. Yes, of course. Often he didn’t get in touch for days or weeks, but he was there at Christmas. The big final party. And he was handsome, not as nerdy as usual.
A lot of nonsense was always given at Christmas, that was a tradition that Heiko had introduced: the “why not gifts”. Lint rollers, dishwashing liquid and in Corona times: lots of toilet paper. His four-year-old nephew Theo wanted a garbage collector’s suit, so I’ll take care of it, Janis had promised, unaware that the BSR doesn’t run a fan shop at all, which he thought was absurd, because all children think garbage collectors are great. So he got an Oranje jersey for the Dutch national team, including leg warmers.
Then Christmas was over and he was alone again. If he had gone to the regulars’ table with his buddies, he would have kept an eye on his sugar level. But he raised his glass to all the good times alone at home. And so he fell asleep and didn’t wake up until he was in heaven, amazed that he had suddenly landed at the top, but not really surprised: “Kick, I made it, somehow.”