Jeanne is dead.
She died on the 10th of May 2009, in her early forties, from cancer. Would someone please invent a remedy against this damn illness? It kills my friends.
22 years. Sometime in spring 1987 we were introduced to each other by Prof. D.H. He was piecing together a group for a project. I was qualified because I knew how to switch on a computer. Jeanne had given a very good referate in one of his seminars and there she was. A small slim person with curly dark hair, sparkling brown eyes and an interesting bust. She always was “boyish” and more then once said that she would have been a pretty macho man. She could make men nervous and it was a pleasure to watch her.
We worked together, studied together, made our final exam at the same day, went some days later together to the Arbeitsamt to sign up for financial aid. I was told to learn “something right”, she was asked whether she wouldn’t like to go as secretary. I managed to work for the institute on contract basis on a project and asked her to join what she did, so we worked together for another year or so. Jeanne started to write for the newspaper, had some minor exhibitions of her paintings and was busy “networking” before that become a la mode. She was briefly married and later met the man of her dreams. She wrote her dissertation* and I remember well an afternoon we spent in my apartement building together models of photographic ateliers. She designed and curated some exhibitions for the Bezirksregierung here that were very good and were well received. She was one of the most accurate workers and rechercheures in the business.
Sometimes in the mid-90s they deceided to go to Berlin. Jeanne was fascinated and disgusted by the capital but she deceided to love it. She was busy working in the photo-historic area, but did not manage to get a university-project started she very much liked. To earn money she worked for event-agencies, designed advertisements, and whatnot – she once saied that she had worked for Romanian collectors, shady Russian business-men and Egyptian caterers. The last was a very profitable job and she was earmarked to become their European representative. The man of her dreams and she parted.
Sometimes in 2008 she became ill. Again. I knew that she had to fight cancer at the beginning of the 90s. In those dark years I had enough trouble with my own family and I know that I was not told everything by my friends. But she won. The time between dates for the medical examinations became longer, nothing was found. A mutual friend told us that she now had to have chemo-therapies, strong ones. She lost her hair. She became weak. The man of her dreams came back to care for her. Brave. Sometime before last christmas she got a fever and it did not go away. On that Sunday she finally fell asleep.
I was so sure that she would survive this. Was told that she’d be too weak to read at the computer, but she’d always carry her portable. So I sent her some sms, mostly in the night when working or in the morning when coming home. Never got an answer and was unsure if they reached her. But they did because the sms announcing her death came from that portable.
We never were in a “romantic” relationship, we were friends, sometimes closer, sometimes a little more distant. Never had brothers or sisters, but I guess she came close to that.
Once met her accidentially in the city shopping. She was wearing a sailor’s outfit with a kind of veil over her décolleté, stood in front of me smiling and saied “Like what you see?” I took the veil aside, inspected Lolek and Bolek and saied “Yes!” For a moment she look stunned and then litterally fell off laughing. We were asked to leave the shop.
Jeanne is dead.
*Rehnig, Jeanne: Das “Photographische Atelier im Warenhaus (…), Würzburg 1998