The Earthquake which took and gave

One morning in February I had just got out of bed, my alarm failed to go off that morning and I was meant to meet my Boyfriend at our favourite coffee haunt in the centre of Christchurch where we both live. I called him "Honey I'm so sorry I'm late, I will be there, gimme an hour ok?", He was there already waiting for me, and as usual he was his sweet self and told me not to worry as he was deep into a book anyway so to take my time. I went to change in my room at our 100 year old flat. Then I heard a loud rumble and all of a sudden things started falling. I was knocked off my feet onto the floor and held my hands over my head as parts of my ceiling fell all over me, I remember looking up and realising that I could see the sky and then feeling the pain all over my body. It felt like forever but was only around 30 seconds untill I started to hear the screaming, the car and house alarms sirening all around. I could hear my flatmate screaming like I had never heard him before and started to try to dig my way out from the rubble.

We went out into the middle of the street bruised and bleeding but alive. It was then I started to see the house that used to be around us were also gone and people were emerging covered in blood, some missing body parts. Having done 2 years of a nursing degree I started running around digging people out, trying to stop people from bleeding to death, and unfortunatly finding many people who didnt make it. One of our neighbours, a Maori woman in her 70's came up to me and grabbed my arm. Her partner, another woman also in her 70's was trapped in what used to be there house, with their daughter and grandson. I ran over there and we started hauling bricks off of the pile of rubble, I found the baby first, crushed beneath a fallen tv. Then the daughter, also crushed. I never found her partner. I sat with that woman on the curb, she didnt cry or scream or anything that I so felt like doing, she just sat holding my hand. It felt like we were the only people left in the world, even though chaos and people were all around us.

It was not untill about an hour after the quake that I remembered my boyfriend was in the city waiting for me, I tried to call but could not get through. I ran toward the city but was blocked by army tanks and a policewoman who said it had all come down. All I could see where there used to be buildings was dust.

They never found his body, but according to people who did survive he was crushed trying to push another person to safety out of a building. That's him, the only guy I have ever been with to treat me like gold. The only guy who I ever trusted at least a bit. I went back to the old woman from nest door and we sat again in silence. She asked about my boyfriend and I told her I couldnt get through. She held my face in her dusty hands and told me that it wasn't my time, or hers.

Since that day I have visited her nearly everyday. Both of us have had to move from our homes which were ruined, both of us lost people we love, and both of us look at each other with a connection that I can only thank the disaster that took so much from us. With her encouragement I have been attending AA and have stopped drinking, something I never thought possible as I was so deep in addiction and am on a waiting list for rehab. She has taught me more of the Maori language, which I have always been in love with, and she has shared with me the strength of 70 years of womenhood.

The day the ground shook others out of my life so devastatingly also shook others into it with such strength.

Rest in peace my Mark, my Uncle Barry, and my dear friends family. Thank you for showing me how precious life can be when you find the strength within yourself.