The Final Chapter
WWII and the occupation of Denmark had ended the 5th of May 1945. Aksel returned home from Nazi prison, physically and mentally scared. It took time to return to a normal life together. We practically had to restart our relationship. We had become strangers.
During the many months Aksel spent in prison he had used his time to write, he was an excellent writer. It had also helped him to keep sane. I read the journals, poems and letters which were never mailed due to the strict censorship by the Nazis.
Now we were free and had to start all over it turned out not to be easy as one might expect. Many times I had the feeling I was standing at the bottom of a steep mountain, ordered to climb it but without any instructions how to do it. I felt loneliness I had never felt before and there were times when I felt as if I was in the middle of the ocean with giant waves crashing over me and no shore in sight.
As said, nothing lasts forever, neither bad nor good. When after two miscarriages, I finally became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful healthy boy, everything changed for all of us. I had reached the “sunny shore.” I believed I received “good Karma,” like a credit in return for all the bad times I’d experienced.
Aksel recuperated. His business as a contractor was blooming and money was streaming in. We celebrated these good times and shared with family and friends.
Bedste, Aksel’s 72-year-old mother was a wonderful babysitter. She lived alone and was lonely. She enjoyed helping out with the children, who loved her dearly and it gave meaning to her life. In other words, it worked both ways, Aksel and I got to enjoy more time alone and with our friends which we loved.
Burning of a Nazi flag at the announcement of the end of the war
Every Saturday night for a whole year we would either go to a dinner party or host one at our home. We dressed beautifully, drank the best French wines, and had 3-4 course dinners. Various wines were served with each course. Our friends were in Aksel’s age group around fifty, I was the youngest around 30. I had reached the peak of my life, I felt that I had matured and that I knew who I was. I had regained all the self-esteem that I had lost during the war. I was very happy, but I lived in a dream world.
Nothing stays the same, even the most beautiful road changes. Aksel and I began drifting apart. Nobody’s fault but our own, perhaps mainly mine. I was sunning myself in the attention and compliments I received from the middle-aged men in our social circle. I flirted which is a delightful, but dangerous game. Looking back today, I believe I didn’t realize how damaging this all would be to our marriage.
In order that one of us would stay home with Bedste and the children, we agreed to take separate vacations. I went on a skiing trip to Norway with some of my old schoolmates, visited friends in Darlane and Stockholm and had a wonderful time. Aksel in turn drove with two of his friends around Europe and spent a month in Switzerland. He also had a great time.
We began having affairs, none were serious but enough to widen the distance between us. I wanted to talk things out with Aksel, to work out our problems but I felt stonewalled and that he treated me like a child. We couldn’t move beyond it. I wanted to stop what we were doing and start over, Aksel was unable to do that and I felt as if he closed the door in my face.
I couldn’t live like that. To hell with it, I said to myself. I still have my children. No matter what, I’m a good mother. If the situation doesn’t change I’ll go on alone and take care of the children. I’ll work, thanks to the strong family in which I was raised, responsibility was pounded into me—and I was willing to take any job that came my way. “I’ll show him that I don’t depend on him.” I felt as if I was Nora in Ibsen’s play ‘The Dollhouse’ when she broke loose.
I’m not sure it was the right decision, but it was the decision I made. I’m writing this memoir in English, in California. My son and my daughter and my three grown grandchildren are here. But that is another story.
I’m now 79 years old. Almost ready to leave this world. However life turned out I have few regrets, hardly worth mentioning. After all I made my own decisions and I tried at least not to hurt anybody along the way.