Although our city had already rocked to a larger, seismically speaking, earthquake five months earlier it wasn’t a life changing experience. After the 7.1 ‘quake on 4 September 2010, as a city we were cocky; we printed T shirts proclaiming we’d “Survived the Quake” and went on (and on and on…) about how tough we and our city were. Earthquakes, pah! Bring it on!
And then February 22nd happened. The symbol of our city, a cathedral so laughable in size and age when compared to those on the other side of the globe yet so central to what made us Christchurch, fell down and whole suburbs were broken and are now all but wiped off the map. And as for surviving: 185 people didn’t.
We’re not going to drag you all through what happened to us again, it’s already been told and nothing’s changed. What’s altered, though, is us – from what we were prior to the earth moving.
At 12.51pm on that day we were already an oddly close family with an over-large vegetable patch and a couple of chickens scratching up the back lawn. As the crashing and smashing quietened and the dust settled, being able to cobble together meals from a well stocked pantry and the garden augmented by our livestock’s contributions suddenly became more than a fuzzy The Good Life fuelled dream; it became a basic need. We now live the life we need to rather than living as we once felt we “should”. How strange that it took a disaster to give us that courage and insight.
As a family we debated how we would mark the anniversary. In the past we have taken part in the organised event, River of Flowers, but our strength doesn’t really lie in doing what everyone else does. Formal events tend to become open forums for self promotion and mud-slinging and we’re really not into that. So this year we grabbed a sunflower each and strolled down to the river 100 metres from the Homestead. We didn’t listen to speeches or join people swapping EQC horror stories, we didn’t write messages on a Tree of hope or observe a minutes silence. We simply took a moment to remember our version of the earthquake, sent a quick thank you to whatever it was that kept us all safe, and biffed our flowers into the river.
Then we walked down the beach and had a coffee at Crema – because it’s what we like to do.
11 thoughts on “Four Years On”
A thoughtful way to mark the anniversary.
I was in Christchurch between the two quakes and remember vividly experiencing a tremor in the middle of the night.
A very moving and poignant post, Sharon! I cannot imagine the terror of an earth quake and I am grateful you all survived! I can understand that you choose to commemorate this turning point in your life in your own way. I cannot write as beautiful as you but I understood what you wrote, what you were really saying. I wish you many, many, many more coffees at Crema in happiness and safety for the rest of your long lives ! xo Johanna
Our lives are all the sweeter for discovering cyber friends like you. thanks for reading between the lines 🙂
I hear you, and it’s a nice sentiment, but there is some irony in the fact that you blogged about it and shared it with potentially billions of people… which is just what everyone else was doing in person, in town, as part of a community. I hear you though, people can have a tendency for aggrandizement and ra ra ra look at me! But community forms tradition for support and in many people’s cases, therapy – without that, some people have nothing at all to look forward to in their lives. Thank you for sharing yours because the rest of the world outside your local community may never really know what’s going on in the minds of those who choose to do it in person rather than by the written word. It’s good to start you own traditions and strike out from the pack, but don’t overlook the goodness in the actions of community. It might be hard to see past the bullshit sometimes, but it’s there if you pay attention.
Awesome comment! Thanks for taking the time and I totally agree with you regarding the irony (we are nothing if not contrary 🙂 ) and the value of community. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that we’re a pretty community focused bunch 🙂
Over time, however, needs change and that’s where we are now as a family. Who knows, next year we many be back with at River of Flowers but this year it didn’t fit. Were we starting our own tradition? It didn’t feel like that; we just needed to mark an event in a way that resonated with us. That the opportunity exists for those who needed a more formal, community based event is, wonderful. We meant no disrespect.
Thanks for taking your time to read about our thoughts, happenings, triumphs, tragedies, brags, confessions and meanderings. Community comes in many different forms; in this one I got to have my say without having to sit through the speeches 🙂
Four years already?
Such a tragic episode in a spot I always used to think of as idyllic. I’m glad you have found such a meaningful way to mark the day and I’m glad you’ve come through it stronger.
Thanks! Time certainly flies, doesn’t it?!
I am glad that you got something positive out of such a terrible time.
It seems to me from reading this post that perhaps part of the reason you recognized the anniversary differently this year is because you’ve all moved on – not that you’re forgetting, or letting go of your connection to community (far from it, I know!) – but that you’ve taken action, and now live differently in a very intentional way. This somehow reminds me of all those colour campaigns – ironically, I’m wearing pink (I hate pink) today for Anti-bullying day (required to for work). I appreciate the way these campaigns raise awareness, but it seems to me that along with awareness what is needed is action. Training. Parenting. Peer support. You know – making people change the way they treat other people. The lessons learned from 2011, who else has changed their lifestyle, got their preparedness in order, made their houses as safe as possible, etc? We acknowledge, we remember, we take action. I agree, maybe next year, you’ll remember the anniversary differently again. Maybe the community will too for that matter.
Thanks for getting it.
I totally agree re: the different campaigns out there; often it seems that donning the colour/ribbon/scarf etc is more of a fashion statement or trendy thing to do. People surely need to be aware, but as you say action has to follow.
The Bean Counter can be a wise old sage (or a smart alec, take your pick) and his take on it all is that we all underwent/are undergoing a time of mourning after the quakes and we all move through it differently. Who knows where we’ll be next year (just quietly, I hope we’ve managed to finish painting the blimmin’ house 🙂 )
I think BC may have a point with the grief thing – and it sounds to me like the Homestead has arrived at acceptance. As you say, we all have to move through it differently. wise sage/smart alec – it’s a fine line 🙂