Over the past five months, the people of Christchurch, New Zealand had become used to having the ground ‘shake, rattle, and roll’. After all, it had been doing it with annoying frequency ever since last year’s terrifying 7.1 earthquake.
And having come through the 7.1 relatively unscathed, we figured it was a small price to pay. Sooner or later, we thought, the aftershocks would stop and life would go back to normal.
But just as we were thinking that normal was within reach, Christchurch and its residents have been beaten, battered, and pretty close to broken by a 6.3 earthquake.
When it struck, I had only just left my favorite bookstore, where I had been sitting in their café, drinking coffee, and flicking through the newest travel magazines, day dreaming of new and exotic places to go.
But the day dreaming was violently shattered by the earth’s tremendous shuddering and shaking that felt like it was never going to stop.
My hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand was in the midst of yet another massive earthquake. And unlike the 7.1 one last September, which resulted in structural damage but no loss of life, this earthquake did both.
In the days that follow, having accounted for family and friends who luckily all managed to escape without injury, I watch with disbelief reports of death and destruction, all the while wondering how much more Christchurch residents can take.
Meanwhile, we clean up the mess and cry with sadness and with joy. We buy food and put gas in the car. And I go to work at the hospital, providing care and help to those injured.
Because, despite feeling like we are all in the midst of a disaster movie that you just want to end, life goes on.
Whether we will ever get back to normal, however, is a question impossible to answer.
(A tribute to the city of Christchurch, New Zealand as we pick up the pieces after the 22/2 Earthquake. The song is “You Build Us Back” by Newsboyz. Kia Kaha Christchurch.)