– St Albans, Chritchurch

We are the friends who were lunching with the Tobias’ at the Mediteranean restaurant on February 22nd. Because my husband could scarcely move without a walker, they offered to come home with us to help, thinking that once again Lyttelton would be ok because it was on rock! We persuaded them to go to their home and made it to our own home in St Albans many hours later – I have only vague memory of that nightmare. We crept along the roads, and I tried not to get too close to the car in front as the huge aftershocks were picking up and moving our small car. Holes were opening up in front of us, and as my husband couldn’t walk, I knew we couldn’t do what many people were doing, abandon the car.

My cellphone couldn’t get through to family; the thing that had always made me feel so lucky, having all of my kids and grandchildren in and around Christchurch suddenly felt like a nightmare; which ones have I lost this time? as it was obvious there would be loss of life. Amazingly we passed one of our grandsons walking home from polytech, and he knew some of the others were ok. Our daughter was at home with her two sick children, in a very old house that was already damaged. When she couldn’t get hold of us, or her partner, she and the children walked to our house and sat in the back garden waiting to see if we were alright before giving up. I ache to think of what she went through. They came to live with us for weeks afterwards.

Our lovely old rimu house stood up well, although the June quake moved it too much and it will be a rebuild.

Now in November 2012 I tell myself the things that really matter to me personally are in this order of importance:
1. My kids and grandchildren are still ok.
2. We are well (my husband has recovered and I’m still a bit mad but getting there!)
3. The earthquakes might have stopped.
4. We haven’t yet run out of money (we did not anticipate having to pay rent in our retirement)

Thank goodness for good friends, wine and the botanic gardens, where all looks normal. For the folk still doing their best to help others, for the cherry hellos as we go for walks. And the birds are back.

But really I am still so scared, so missing my home, and cannot imagine I will ever be really happy again.

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