Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sometimes the memories just come....

Today as I drove home from Uni I noticed a new building going up
and it looked kinda attractive against the winter trees.
I could barely remember what was on the spot previously,
there are so many bare spots, it is hard to keep track of what was where.

It's weird but just noticing the building and thinking that it looked ok
somehow started a stream of thoughts leaking out in my head.
I drove home on autopilot while memories poured into my mind
one after another in no order. Memories like...

Washing the family's clothes in a baby bath for weeks,
the tub of water for handwashing outside the back door,
the difficulty keeping anything clean and sanitary.
James, standing on the footpath saying, I'm not leaving my dad.
I remember going to the supermarket to buy a bucket,
and filling it with chocolate. I don't know which we needed more.

I remembered taking the children for a walk, and feeling brave enough to take them across the river,
I remember we stopped for ages and watched them take a chimney down at the school.
I remember liquifaction everywhere, and then dust.
I remember Reuben telling me to wear a face mask when I went out.
I remember buying Annie a pair of lace up shoes to wear.
They were sparkly pink. We both hated them.
But the broken glass kept coming out from under the furniture for weeks
so she had to wear them. She was just a baby really.

I remember queuing at the well for drinking water for months and months.
I remember going to church and knowing that none of us had had a shower for days.
I remember going somewhere where it was safe but where we were not understood,
it turned out to be easier to be with people who did and not be so safe.

I remember taking photos of quilts on fences, so many fences.
I didn't realise at the time that once the fences were gone, the buildings would be too.
I remember wanting things to go back to normal.
I remember holes in the ground and driving slowly around them.

I remember sitting on the makeshift toilet in our garden and hearing a rat in the chicken run.
I remember trying to make meals for the family from what was in the pantry.
All of the contents of the freezer had gone of course.
The power stayed mostly one once it was on,
but the water took a long long time.
I remember always having a door open so we could run out in an aftershock.

I remember lying in bed during the aftershocks and checking twitter,
feeling comforted by the fact I wasn't the only one frightened.
I remember laughing at aftershocks, we called them wobbles.
Annie still calls them wobbles.

I remember taking all the pictures off the walls so that they wouldn't hit us when they fell.
I remember that so much stuff broke and kept on breaking,
but the thing that made me sad was when my crown lynn swan broke,
and then the replacement broke too.

So many memories. It's our past. It's the stories we will tell our children.
It's hard to pack them away tidily and make sense of them
when there is no sense to them really.

Maybe we will always be a little bit cracked ourselves,
and that's ok. Because not many people live through what we have,
there's no rule book for disaster really.


  1. if only we knew each other then, then i would of given you our space to share, as the army looked after us as well as helping as much as they could in town. But what doesn't break us can only make us stronger.

  2. the cracks are where the light gets in (according to leonard cohen)!
    my safety thing was talk back radio (and i loathe talk back radio with all my being) but it was so good to hear people saying out loud my thoughts and worries all night long through aftershock after aftershock.
    i often wonder how long it will take until my brain properly registers it's all gone. probably wont until all the gaps are filled and we forget the gaps as well as what came before.
    shame about the crown lynn swans. i shall keep my ye out for you x

  3. I still find the occasional shard of glass in the pantry. I did clean up the pantry at the time - honest! And I cleaned it up again in February, June and December, but the glass still keeps turning up.

  4. Thank you for sharing what it is like / was like. Those of us who did not experience it will never know truly, but these posts go a long way to help us try to understand. Hugest of hugs to you and your family. I think that you are doing such a good job of getting there and being there for your children through all of this.xxJ

  5. Thank you for sharing this. It makes tears well up in my eyes. It reminds me that our experiences are important. Each person's (earthquake-related) story is important, no matter how similar or different it is to the next one. I'm mainly talking to myself here.

    I must write my own words down, even though it really hurts. I want to, too. I know that when, or if, I forget what it was like, what it is like, I'll still want to remember for some reason that's beyond my comprehension.

    But it still hurts somewhere deep.

    It's reassuring to know that most other people feel the same, even though it's not a nice 'knowing'.

  6. We moved on to Melbourne afterwards. Our house back in Chch was demolished a couple of weeks ago. I like your blog because no one here understands, and when I read your posts I feel less nuts about still struggling some days to accept what has happened. Thanks, Deb. xo

  7. Even though I'm sure it wont always feel like it, I'm sure you are all much stronger for those cracks. it takes alot of strength and courage to keep standing when you feel broken. Big big hugs xx

  8. ;'( the Crown Lynn swan, that bit had tears rolling down my cheeks . . . .
    Love you xxx

  9. Yes exactly. It just hits you out of the blue just when you think you're all okay. For me it was June 13th and remembering that particular shake. Our family classifies them as Wibbles Wobbles Rattles and #@$^*. Big hugs to you Deb.

  10. Memories are funny things. You think you are doing ok and then it all comes back to you. Being a bit cracked is normal, as far as I can tell. It helps make us who we are.
    BTW, my favourite story about grape vines is a vineyard that was advertising for "women for rolling on."
    (It turns out that when the vines are pruned, depending on the type of pruning, the canes need to be trained onto the wires, hence women for rolling canes onto the wires - dunno why men can't do it.)

  11. Hi Deb

    I haven't commented very often but I treasure your blog posts so much. You have picked yourself ( and your family) up and dusted yourself off so many times. I hugely admire your willingness to tell us what it is like for you. You have given me a new understanding of why my father never let us forget that the day of the Napier earthquake was his first day of school. Your fence quilts are art that speaks volumes. Thank you.



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