Oddly this is the first year I’m spending 22/2 in a city surrounded by people who will have understandably long forgotten what happened on this day 8 years ago. For some of us, it’s not quite so easy, and each 22 February is a painful reminder of the different track our lives were forcibly set upon that day – for me, it was the day that I discovered what was really important in life – the things I thought were priorities at 12.50pm, became totally irrelevant at 12.51pm that day.
All these years later, it still feels raw – the horrific sights, smells and sounds of that day are etched in my mind – I’ll never forget arriving minutes later at Mt Pleasant School to collect my brother only to see lunchboxes and lunches strewn everywhere, children hurt and bleeding, the screams and cries of some children and the anguish of others asking if their parents were okay to which I could not give an honest answer.
That day I found out how truly sickeningly fragile life is and how you could be robbed of it in an instant. An innocent error by someone who ordinarily doesn’t make mistakes caused me to move off my seat 30 seconds before the earthquake. The seat was crushed by 5 tonnes of concrete a few seconds later. This random coincidence aligned itself in my favour on that day, saving my life, yet I realise that for so many people, coincidences aligned themselves in the opposite fashion that day to leave them tragically unlucky.
8 years of my life have passed since then and in that time my life has changed so much. I’ve been to Uni, embarked on a career, been travelling the world, had some new and amazing people enter my life, strengthened meaningful relationships with others, given and received love to and from this world.
But for 185 people that hasn’t happened. Where circumstances saved me for which I will be grateful for until the end of my days, the same circumstances led to the deaths of other people, the unfair, untimely ending of days for people who still, like myself, had so much unfinished business on this planet and whose absence leaves a gaping hole in the lives of their families, friends and communities.
Today it is those people who are on my mind, people whose only mistake was finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am more grateful than I could ever express that I am still able to reflect back on that day, still able to cry, in the most human of reactions to acknowledge the permanent scars embedded in our hearts.
Kia Kaha ❤️