Saturday, May 29, 2010
I heard Nadja shout “WHAT?!!? I CAN’T BELIEVE!!!” A middle aged woman stood on her second floor balcony with a red-headed girl of around 7. The woman said the artist had died of a heart attack last week. It was unexpected and the man was only 42. I heard the girl say “mein papa ist tot.” Nadja was emotional. She said that she couldn’t understand it. The girl, upon hearing Nadja speaking English, simply clarified: “my papa is dead.” I felt like I had swallowed a brick.
These are the kind of moments when perspective smacks you square in the face and all of the little things you bitched about all week—late trains, bad lunches, flat beer—seem like a complete waste of breath. I suddenly felt self-conscious of the fact that I had a camera around my neck. I put my camera back in the bag. I said I was sorry. I’ve never liked the failure of English language to express any real emotion. All I could say was “I’m sorry.” Why? I didn’t kill the guy. But all you can say when someone has lost somebody close is “I’m sorry.” That’s what you say when a mourning woman and her young child are looking down on you from a 2nd floor balcony of the flat of a dead artist. And then you walk away.