When I was a boy, my mother told me to look to the sky whenever I was scared or sad. “Up there”, she said, “are the angels that look over us, and they will look down on you and will keep you safe”. My mother was a religious woman, her father being a minister throughout Northern Germany around the turn of the century. She told stories of how he would come home from the funerals of soldiers killed on the front during the First World War. He would be physically and mentally drained, yet he continued to do it. “He saw it as his obligation”, she told me once, “These families had lost so much, and all they needed was someone there to help them say goodbye”.
When I left for the front, she didn’t shed a tear. She knew where I was going, and what was at stake. “Look to the sky”, she said as I boarded the train.
I glanced up one afternoon from my foxhole. Although barely noticeable were a formation of enemy bombers on their way to bomb targets somewhere in Europe, more than likely in Germany. I prayed for my mothers safety, and hoped that her view of the sky wouldn’t be tainted by contrails and flak bursts.
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