Six years ago, we were woken early on a Saturday morning by an ambulance service. They inquired whether we knew if our neighbour was home, for they had received an emergency call, but no one was answering the doorbell.
We knew Bernd, had been in the hospital a few months before, so we thought the call could well have come from him. Since he was not answering his door, I offered the ambulance people our hammer and told them they could break into the apartment from the kitchen window. They declined my offer; they were not legally allowed to pursue a forced entry, and therefore called the fire department.
We stood waiting outside Bernd’s door an agonising 15 minutes before the fire department arrived. Our neighbour was dead when they entered the apartment, though they managed to reanimate him. Unfortunately, there is no happy end to this story. Bernd was in a coma for nearly four years and then died, in his early thirties, without gaining consciousness.
I have been haunted all these years with the thought that if I had just overstepped the legal formalities and broken into the apartment myself and let the ambulance people in, maybe Bernd would be alive today.
Last night, I was at a birthday dinner at a tapas restaurant in Hamburg. The birthday gal was sitting across from me, talking very intently with one of her friends. The friend, four months pregnant, had just told her boss that she was pregnant. Since there was so much noise in the restaurant, I couldn’t hear what they were saying. All of a sudden my friend turns to the rest of us at the table looking very confused and tells us that her friend isn’t talking sense.
Fortunately, she mentioned the woman was a diabetic. I instantly jumped up and went to call an ambulance and emergency doctor. They took six minutes to get to the restaurant, by which time the woman was unconscious. The doctor and ambulance people did an amazing job of getting her back conscious in a short time.
I just received the news that the woman and unborn child are well and on their way back home. I feel as if the gods gave me a second chance.