At 12:50 I should have been writing. I had been up until just a few moments before then.
All morning I sat in my favorite chair, by the picture window of this rented house. But for some unknown reason, Richard decided to come home for a late lunch. Only the Grace of God could have caused this. Ric was too busy to come home, he'd taken his lunch to work, made it himself. I think this was the first time I ever discouraged him from coming home. I wanted to write and he was too busy to take the time off. It seemed sensible. I should write on, he should work on. Twice, maybe three times, I told him not to. But he insisted.
I had only just stood up when it struck, we knew in a second it wasn't a normal aftershock. Ric took my hand and pulled me towards the front door. The house was shaking vertical, like something in a Disney ride...but terrifying without the fun. We could hardly stand up, no less get to the door. But Richard pulled me towards it only to find that glass was blowing out of the door, we retreated back. Then the debris, all the plaster, wood, dust and glass flew at us. The picture window exploded, and the chimney fell into the living room, pushing the log burner at us. Ric stood with his arms around me.
Time is strange. It lasted forever, but was over in seconds.
When it settled we ran to the door again. Richard, finding my shoes and sticking them on my feet.
This time, unlike September, I was hysterical. It's my children, see. This time the earthquake didn't strike us in the wee hours of the morning. This was lunch-time and my children were across town, baby in preschool in the north, the others to the south.
It was our Maddee we ran for, Ric driving, going up on footpaths to avoid the now broken roads. I know I cried, over and over again about the fact that she had only just settled down from the last. I guess that probably didn't help Richard much!
She was okay. The children were all outside, singing songs about Jesus. My little Maddeed who had been so traumatized by the first event. We had made 5 steps forward, going to preschool again the largest and last. She is 3-4 steps back now, hardly leaving my side, terrified by this new onslaught of aftershocks.
Then across the city to the other children. It took 1 hour to drive the 15 minute trip. Along the way we picked up a young woman walking with a two year old boy, she was crying. She was trying to walk home, across the city.
I could settle down now. Cell phone coverage was dead (just like in September) except that my daughter, in university in Otago, 4 1/2 hours away, could call everyone. So she assured us we were all fine and arranged the meeting up.
The traffic was mad, but we still didn't know how bad this one was yet. I did whisper to Richard, 'This one can't have not caused deaths. We were so blessed last time, but it struck us at the busiest of time."
I think about that now. It seemed so hard in September, we never really knew what hard was till February.
After meeting up with our other children, it took us three hours to get the young woman and her little one closer to her part of the city. Not home, but close enough for her husband to reach her by foot. Cars were gridlocked on roads towards her home. We had to drop her, and pray she is walked away.
Our city is devasted. We are safe, with friends. Not sure of next steps Everyone in this city, including ourselves, knows someone under the rubble.
Written by Barbara (beegirl) on February 23th.