A 6.3 earthquake struck at the heart of Christchurch at mid-day Tuesday, February 22 while I was conducting a course for teachers at the Westburn School. The roar was deafening, yet it’s the cries of the children I can’t get out of my mind.
Amidst the chaos, the teachers and administrators leapt into action. Like epic figures of courage and comfort, they shepherded hundreds of little ones out of the building and onto the field to safety.
After seeing to it that there was nothing else I could do at the school, my thoughts turned to my own family.
Where is everyone?
Phones were useless, so I got in my car for the 10 minute ride to my parents’ home. Two hours later I arrived. The building was still standing but my parents weren’t there.
Standing at that door, not knowing where my mum and dad were, I felt an unbearable, unthinkable aloneness. I came there thinking my parents needed me. But maybe the truth was, I needed them.
I was terrified.
I was four years old again.
And the earth was still shaking.
Still hours later and nearly out of gas, I arrived at my daughter’s. As I stepped inside, my two year old granddaughter Caitlin rushed up to me in excitement and told me all about the “shakey shakes.”
We laughed and I hugged her for longer than she needed. And with those little arms wrapped around me, the earth stopped shaking, and I was all grown up again.
In dedication to the people of Christchurch. For those lost and the ones they leave behind, I wish you peace. For the thousands of heroes who reached out to help others that day, I salute you. For all who continue to provide support and comfort for the disheartened and displaced of my community, I thank you. And for the children of Christchurch, may you always feel safe in the arms of those who love you most.