Many years later…………………..
After having grown up in the United States I returned to Europe to work at a University in medical research. That Christmas, I received an invitation form Helga to spend Christmas with her and her family in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Helga and I were the best friends at an early age while we lived in Kapfenberg, Steiermark, Austria, in a refugee camp – as little girls, and kept in touch with occasional letters across the Atlantic……..and always at Christmas time.
It was a spectacular winter in Lausanne……blue sky, sunshine with a chill in the air that refreshed with every breath. Helga’s family welcomed me with open arms and I immediately felt at home, as if I had never left them.
It was like being little girls all over again reminiscing our childhood in Austria with much laughter and clowning around. At this time in our lives we have had our first loves and I was a professional woman with a degree in Biology, Helga was in her last year at University to become a Pharmacist, and was overflowing with love for a man in Hamburg.
Much time has gone by, our worlds and lives were different now, but our friendship kept on to be the same warm and giving experience…………
We were in the middle of picking up the Christmas tree from the floor, which was not the first time that afternoon, while we were decorating it to be ready and aglow during dinner which was being prepared by Helga’s mother. At this moment her father came into the living room with our coats in hand to tell us that we were going for a long walk.
In astonishment and giggles we piled into his car. We drove through a lovely countryside covered with snow feeling the spirit of Christmas.
We stopped on a country road in the middle of a forest and hiked a bit into a small open area surrounded by snow covered pines. The tree’s branches were reaching to the ground as if to beg for a helping hand. The sun was setting. Helga’s father took a candle out of his pocket, clamped it on a pine branch and lit it. Stillness surrounded us as the sky darkened at dusk.
It was one of the most peaceful and profound moments in my life.
We did not speak, we remembered………….