Last night Mum forwarded me an email from a cousin of hers living in Sumner, on the outskirts of Christchurch. Nearly two weeks later it is still hard to believe they don't have running water or a sewage system other than portaloos at various points along the road. They have decorated their portaloo with gnomes and seats. The strange irony is that they have been without television coverage for a lot of the time so have been unaware of the true extent of the damage in the central city that I've been seeing up close on the web from the other side of the world, including a picture of their portaloo. On thier street it all has a emptiness to it as few have stayed on, but life in a strange sort of way is continuing on.
Meanwhile Mum has nagged Dad to bracket the free standing wardrobe in their spare room in case an earthquake strikes while a guest is staying. I've been in both the last two big (although they hardly seem big now) earthquakes in Gisborne over the last twenty years and I remember how jumpy you get- everytime a truck goes past the road you think it's another aftershock. You go to others' houses and wonder how stable their pieces of free standing furniture are.
In the days following February 22nd I felt a sort of detached emotion. So connected and empathietic to what had happened, but distant from it all. Now I almost have a guilty feeling of being glad to be away from it all. For a start I don't have to suffer John Campbell's mundane and endless broadcasts, but mostly I think there is going to a long road back to normal. This is a wound that's still very much open. There is a lot of healing and rebuilding to be done and I am lucky to not have to face the realities of that everyday.
Today, for instance the most challenging thing I had to do was explaining to 11-year-olds why Juliet decided sleeping potion was the best answer, why she wasn't just allowed to marry anyone and why Shakespeare just couldn't let her get over it and not die. I tried to explain as best I could and thought of lost lives in general.