Comment: Earthquake brings memories shuddering back

By Donna Mills

I did what I always do. Headed for my son's room. My husband, still in bed, yelled to get low but I had to go to my son. So, shaking like a leaf, I headed down the hallway. I remembered when the September 2010 earthquakes hit, I could not walk down the hallway without being thrown to the sides.

This time, I could walk straight and the noise was not nearly as loud. Back in September 2010, it felt a train was coming through our house, the noise was deafening then.

I opened Ollie's bedroom. Everything was still rolling and rocking like a boat on a rocky sea.

"Oliver, mummy jaan, pesaram (my son, dear), it's an earthquake."

Oliver was 8 years old when the first earthquake hit in 2010; he is now a teenager.

He mumbled something about me waking him up. We are so lucky that he is never been scared of earthquakes.

I remember I was standing just outside a little room on the second floor of his primary school, when the most damaging of the Christchurch earthquakes hit in February 2011. I immediately opened the door and told him, in my fake calm voice, to get under the desk.

With his violin in one hand, and his bow in the other, he crawled, with his music teacher, under the table.

The shaking was too strong for me to make it to the table so I stayed at the doorway and we quietly locked eyes until the violent shaking stopped. His first question to me afterwards was if he could go and play with his friends.

I must say the February earthquake hit me really hard. I suppose I have never quite got over the "what if". You see on that fateful day, Ollie and I were supposed to be in our office in town except he had begged me that morning not to take him. He was off school with a cold and I had taken him to the office with me the day before. I felt sorry for him and thought I could work from home and then take him to school for his violin lesson at lunchtime.

As it turned out, the room in the office, the one he would have been playing with his toys in, was buried in bricks. He most certainly would have not made it. That thought has never left me.

So, last night, I was the one who was shaken and scared the most. And yet, I'm usually known as the brave one. You know, the one that can watch scary movies, go through the Fear Factory in Queenstown etc. without so much as batting an eye.

My husband and son stayed in bed while I took to my phone. First on the list was my mum. I was so surprised at how much the phone was shaking in my hand and how long it took me to find her number. It was of course right there but fear had locked my brain.

Mum's voice was shaking slightly. She told me she was standing outside. Employing my fake calm voice again, I reminded her that her house, having been rebuilt recently after being damaged in the February earthquake, was very safe and it was best for her to stay inside.

I asked her if she wanted me to come over, she said she was fine and I was making too big a deal out of it. Thankfully she copes well with earthquakes.

Then, I sent a few messages via WhatsApp and Telegram to close friends and family overseas before marking my self "safe" on Facebook for everyone else.

Afterwards I took to Twitter. I started tweeting and felt I was instantly connecting with others who were rocking and rolling in the same boat with me.

Finally, I did what I always do at times of trouble. I imagined how lucky I was that I was not trapped in a war zone; that bombs were not raining down on me, that I was not a refugee trying to flee to safety or drowning in an open sea.

I thought, yes I live in the shaky Isles, but how lucky that I live in a peaceful developed country; and how lucky that I live where people are decent enough to always look out and care for each other.

With that thought I went back to bed.

- NZ Herald

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