On August 25th, I got up to go to work as usual. It was my last week at Viral Lab, our last week in Berlin and we were in “take advantage of every second” mode. That morning, we all wake up, Zeina, Rawane, Tala and I and for the first time, decided to take our time, be late to work and have a nice breakfast together.
It was a very pleasant breakfast where we laughed so much. It was one of those days that just started so great, they couldn't possibly get any better.
Late to work, but still taking my time, I walked my regular route to the U-bahn station, the route that I have memorized and learned to walk blindly, the route that I learned to love with beautiful music blasting in my headphones. I looked like a true Berliner. Anyone could ask me for directions and I would answer him saying the names of the streets with the perfect German accent. I got out on a station, changed lines, and kept going, enjoying people watching because people in Berlin are just so goddamn interesting with the music in my ears playing the soundtrack of that morning. I got out on my station and walked, or practically even skipped to the office. I reached, got up the familiar stairs, and walked in as I removed my headphones and snapping back to the much quieter reality (Berlin is, weirdly enough, an extremely quiet city during the day). I said hi to Sven and Andi, my two bosses, and sat on my regular chair.
Sven and Andi looked a bit weird... I thought it was maybe because I was late, although they're usually pretty cool about this kind of stuff. Sven looked at me and said:
“I have bad news. Sarah died last night”
I couldn't believe it. I kept replaying the sentence in my head a million times. It could not be possible. All I was thinking was that it could not be. Sarah! I had just spent the entire previous day with her at the office. We were the only two at the office, we ordered sushi, we talked, she got the call that she got the apartment she's been waiting for, she was starting university in a month, she told me about her plans, I told her about mine. At the end of the day I said: “Bis Morgen!” (See you tomorrow), and she answered “Bis Morgen!”. She's just 25 years old. She was the nicest person. She always translated everything when everyone at the office started talking German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. She came with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. She lent me her bicycle and found me the closest burger king because I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. She found us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent her a message at midnight. She gave me the beautiful music from her laptop, and had promised to give me more soon. She was sending me a “German song of the day”. She was just, a couple of days earlier, planning a goodbye dinner for me, and searching for a chicken restaurant because she knew I don't eat pork … She was one of the people I met in Berlin... She was my friend.
I couldn't believe it.
I stayed quiet for the longest time, thinking of all of these things in my head and just not believing it. How can something like this happen?
“She has a lung embolism” said Andi.
I remembered that the previous day she complained a couple of times that she was tired, but so did I... It was just a regular day where we were both saying we're tired and wanting to go home...
She slept. She didn't wake up. All her plans, her new apartment, her Master's program, her dreams, just evaporated.
I asked to go home, called the girls and we all met back at home where we lied in bed and they held me. They all knew Sarah without ever knowing her. I talked about her a lot. They felt appreciation for her after she saved us so efficiently and perfectly after we missed the Amsterdam bus.
It hasn't been easy dealing with this. Just when were were so sad to leave Berlin, just when we were saying our goodbyes, to our friends...
I personally feel like it's been a weight on my shoulders. I am now in Barcelona in our new office, listening to Sarah's beautiful music and something doesn't feel right. I felt the need to write something for Sarah.
Thank you Sarah. Thank you for being the nicest person. Thank you for always translating everything when everyone at the office talked in German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. Thank you for coming with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. Thank you for lending me your bicycle and finding me the closest burger king when I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. Thank you for finding us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent you a message at midnight. Thank you for the beautiful music. Thank you for promising to give me more soon. Thank you for the “German song of the day”. Thank you for planning on throwing me a goodbye dinner, and searching for a chicken restaurant because you knew I don't eat pork … Thank you for being one of the people I met in Berlin... Thank you for being my friend.
In memory of Sarah Raith (1986-2010)