A tale of loneliness: Marianne Behn

How does she live with loneliness? How does she deal with living by herself with no kin or relation except the brief acquaintances she makes in strangers who cross her path while she commutes from one place to another: the beer waiter in a lake resort town, the woman sitting next to her reading newspaper, the lady about to get off the train with her husband and family, an Asian couple who beckon her to share a table with them while on vacation. 

We were that Asian couple. My husband and I were seeking reprieve from the hot summer sun at Lake Tegernsee, 46 km southwest of Munich when I noticed an elderly woman sitting in an outdoor cafe all by herself at Tegernsee, a lake 46km southwest of Munich. I couldn't help but notice how alone she was, so I turned to her and gestured for her to come join us at our table. Despite her conversing only in German and we in English, the three of us spent a lovely afternoon enjoying coffee, beer and cakes, relying on Google Translator to keep our conversation understandable. Marianne Behn is without kin - her husband has passed away and she has no children. Formerly a waitress, she is now retired and travels to vacation spots on the outskirts of Munich by train and bus. But that's as far as the traveling she has done - she has never flew on a plane before. I wished there and then I could put her on a plane and fly her to a destination of her desire - maybe Singapore, as she has never heard of Singapore until she met us.

This is the short version to the full story. Click here to read the full story which I wrote in Feb 2015. Why am I talking about Marianne Behn again? Because I think of her frequently and every time I do, my heart feels acutely lonely, as if I were feeling Marianne’s heart.

Is she really lonely? Perhaps she’s happy? How do we cure loneliness? I may never know, but until I do, I can continue to reach out to someone who could do with a friend, albeit thousands of miles away and oceans apart.


Marianne Behn and I at Lake Tegernsee, Germany in August 2011.