Berlin, Chicago.

posted in: Paean 17
Christkindlemarket, Chicago, 2010. Photo: Wikipedia.
Christkindlemarket, Chicago, 2010. Photo: Wikipedia.


That’s a picture of the beloved Christkindlemarket in Chicago, just ten minutes from my door if I hop a cab. I could walk there in twenty. Last year, I asked Claus if he wanted to go, it being Christmas, him being German, and the Christkindlemarket being pretty. I told him it’s the largest Christmas market in the country and is full of delicious smells and good people-watching. We went ice-skating instead, but we might’ve gone. It’s so close.

Today, a man drove a truck into the Christkindlemarket in Berlin. He did this to pledge allegiance to a cause and to a political leader. He wanted to make a statement, you see.

Twelve people are dead. Forty-eight people are injured. When I hear “injured” I think about how “injured” means “broken arm” and “concussion.” It also means “in the ICU, on a ventilator, with a swelling brain, paralyzed.” That sort of injury is what happens when a truck drives into a crowd of people.

Claus lives in Berlin. Claus didn’t go over to the Christkindlemarket today, but he might have. He’ll go see his mother outside of Hamburg on Sunday; surely he’ll take her a gift. He could’ve gone to the Christkindlemarket in Berlin, not far from his home. He didn’t, though, so Claus is not dead or injured.

But someone’s Claus is.

Last night, Sophie texted me. In a awful coincidence, the very day we were talking about my desire to get a cat and her deep, abiding love for her own two cats, one of them, John, experienced heart failure. He’s at the emergency vet even now, in a glass cage, on oxygen. He’s not aged. He was not ever visibly infirm. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Soph and Luke do not have the thousands of dollars it is costing to care for John in this way. It’s just… It’s so hard.

To the man who drove the truck today:

Did you ever have a cat who got sick? Did he die? Did you feel so, so sad? Don’t you think that life is so hard, so hard anyway, without purposefully causing more pain? We don’t have to make more suffering. You don’t have to do that. Your brother doesn’t have to do it. I don’t. None of us.

Things we love get sick. We are disappointed and crushed a hundred times a day. It’s all so hard already. Please, please, please.

Come on, John. Come on, injured ones. Pull through.

17 Responses

  1. Deb
    | Reply

    Oh, Mary.
    I know…

    • Mary Ann
      | Reply

      My daughter lives in Germany, not too far from Berlin. Luckily she had skyped and told me she was okay before we heard about this horrible act. She had gone to the Market in her town yesterday. You never know…..

  2. Christine Houghton
    | Reply

    I feel the pain as I had to put my dog Buddy to sleep last Friday. He was twelve, a rescue who was abused. His last five years with us, he was spoiled and pampered and loved. Prayers for those who are still fighting to live.

  3. Lisa Gainey Floyd
    | Reply

    Amen Mary. Merry Christmas and lots of love

  4. Carol Hendrick
    | Reply

    After we lost a very beloved cat, there were several weeks when i just wanted to grab anyone with a pet and yell at them “They die! Don’t you know, they die!? ” I swore that was the end, never again. But a little later the house was sort of quiet and we made a trip to the Animal Rescue League just to look…. and came home with two new ones. When I read your post yesterday about getting a cat I wanted to yell:”Mary! They die! Don’t you know, they die!? ” Shoot. We all do. I get this. But to deliberately kill innocents, this I do not understand.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Thank you, Carol, for writing this.

  5. sharon
    | Reply

    Hugs Mary, life is so painful sometimes. I watched our First Lady last night, she said our word should be HOPE, I know its hard but please keep having hope that things will get better. Get that cat sooner rather than later, there is a lovely cat in a shelter just waiting for you to pick him or her out. Better yet get a bonded pair from the shelter and save two lives. Pets are awesome and give you a reason to go home.

  6. Rhonda Mossner
    | Reply

    Oh my…it’s sad to think of these things happening during such a happy time of year for most of us. Why do those in pain feel they need to do things to make other innocent victims suffer with them?
    Bake some cookies, give a quilt or invite a neighbor you’d like to get to know better over to visit.
    Let’s try to make the world a little nicer for some who are lonely or troubled this year.
    We can’t save the whole world but maybe we can make one new friend .This is something we can all do.
    I moved to a new condo last year. There are 16 units in our block. I see people but do not know names. Yesterday, I baked and decorated gingerbread boys and sugar cookies and made little packets for each unit
    My hubby delivered them and hung them on the front door handles.
    This morning, already two thank yous and a coffee invite for the new year.
    Three cookies. A small gesture of friendship and goodwill.

  7. Robin Gabriel
    | Reply

    I am praying for you, for John, for us all. We all have an end, but when you find a soul you love, and that loves you, you have to hang on to all the wonderful memories as there are many, many more of those than the tragic ends, When something as horrible as Berlin happens, we are at a loss to make sense of how someone can have such hate inside of them to want to take a life or lives in this case. We must all tell the ones that we care about that we love them, every chance we get, and pray for the people who are so broken that they feel they need to do these awful things. If we do not love, because we are afraid of their inevitable passing, we have nothing. God bless us all.

  8. nadine donovan
    | Reply

    This world is so crazy nuts at times. I do not understand why people have to hurt other people. The only statement I get out of it -is that they are crazy. I am so sorry to hear about your friends cat. Our fur babies are special.

  9. Candy
    | Reply

    Yes, just sigh…that is about all…

  10. Susan
    | Reply

    As I read this I am holding my beloved pup, only three years old. We suspect he has a fatal and excruciatingly painful condition inherent to his breed. He has an appointment today at two. I am terrified at the prospect. I love him so much. I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of grief in losing a loved one due to senseless violence and hate. Natural causes are bad enough. Throw hate into the mix and it becomes absolutely unbearable. I’m rambling, I know. Oh well.

  11. Lori Fontaine
    | Reply

    Mary, in my computer there is a file with the name “IMPORTANT”. In this file are REALLY important things–things to be read over and over again. Things that make a day better, such as: Julian of Norwich’s: “All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well”. There are things in that file that are there to remind me how precious this crazy life is. Paper Girl’s “Anniversaries” is in there. Also, “Berlin, Chicago”. I am SO hugging you right now Mary.

  12. Andrea
    | Reply

    Dear Mary,
    I have been a follower of your blog for a while and i’m living in Berlin. when you had written about your plans to come here I wanted to tell you right away that I would like to gt to know you in person. But then of course it’s your precious time you can spend with Claus and in addition to that our baby is due in the mid of January, so I don’t know to what extent I may be available or not. (By the way I’m much, much older than you so just in case you still wish to have someone to love dearly, stick to it, don’t give up, please, you deserve it.)
    Also, I wanted to tell you to visit a Christmas market in Berlin when being here – some of them still being in full swing even in Januray. One of the nicest markets is the one near/in front of Charlottenburg Castle – Claus might know about it. But since yesterday evrything has changed, one person made the difference. But there are soooo many more wanting to live in peace and usually they/we do.
    So you will be welcome and you will like it. Make sure to come back in summer to see our really green town surrounded by lakes and forests – in winter it’s rather like in a romantic (if slightly depressing) faity tale here, you will see and you even might like it.
    I wish you peaceful Christmas days, a safe jouney here and back home and above all some delightful days with Claus.

  13. Nancy Neely
    | Reply

    Coming to Chicago on Thursday. Christ kindle market is number one on my list of places to stop. Praying for victims and their families in Berlin and for the perpetrator that his heart will be changed. Don’t we all really want to live in peace? How can violence and hatred bring that about? It can’t.

  14. […] I wrote about Berlin and the terrorist, I spoke about my bosom friend Sophie’s kitty, how he was very sick. And yesterday, I told […]

  15. […] was awful. A terrorist drove a van into a market in Berlin and I thought of Claus, of course, because Claus lives in Berlin. What I never got around to mentioning is that when I went to visit […]

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