And 11 days it will be the first anniversary of the fatal Christchurch Earthquake.
So there’s lots of media stories about “one year on” and lots of remembering.
I’m finding it quite hard sometimes – some of my memories I’d sort of tucked away. At the time it hurt too much, so I pushed the grief down so I could cope. It’s now starting to resurface, just a bit at a time.
March 2011. A group of women sit around a table, sipping hot drinks. Candles on the table cast a soft glow of light over bowls of chocolates and platters of cheese and crackers. The women are de-briefing, talking about their experiences.
Then one turns to me. “What about you? Where were you?”
“I was in Cashel Mall.”
“Oh.” The group falls silent for a few minutes.
November. It's my first visit to a counsellor. I look at the window without focusing on what's there. I'm trying to find the words to explain why I'm there.
“I expected that it would take time to recover after my traumatic experience.”
“Did you have a traumatic experience?”
“I was in Cashel Mall on February 22nd.”
I wrote a brief introduction to a Facebook group I’d joined. “Was in Cashel Mall on Feb 22nd”
The first comment in response was “Wow, Cashel Mall - HUGE hug”
So apart from this blog, which I posted the following day when it was still raw and I was still in shock, I’ve not really had much chance to tell my story about what it was actually like in Cashel Mall that day. Usually the listener hears “Cashel Mall” and nothing else needs to be said.
When I was approached by one of my readers to contribute to a video montage about the events of that day I was happy to do so. I think it was the first time someone had told me to just tell the story of what happened that day, in my own words.
I’ve also been writing my story. Maybe someday it might even grow from a baby story into something that might be publishable, but I feel like I have to finish walking the journey first. In the meantime I’ve been writing the memories as they come back to me. In some ways writing about the events of 22nd February 2011 hasn’t been as hard is remembering what it was like on the 23rd February, the 24th, the 25th, the next week, and the week after that. The gut felt grief and pain aren’t so tangible, it’s harder to find the words to describe them. As I remember, I feel again the emotions of that time.
Join with me in remembering at 12:51pm on 22nd February. And for all of us who are still in the process of healing, of finding ourselves again, let’s continue to pray for each other.