Ok so the title of this post is a bit twee but having recently been through the Christchurch Earthquake, and all that has followed, it does seem apt.
On 4th September there was a 7.1 earthquake in my home city of Christchurch. The quake struck just after 4.30am and I had four kids in the house. Like a mother-hen I gathered them together and we fled for our garage spending the remaining dark hours in nooks and crannies there.
Long story short, after thousands of aftershocks (yes, thousands!) we, like everyone else in the city, survived. It was nothing short of miraculous.
Our home has not been so fortunate but everything that was lost and broken can be repaired or replaced.
Later that day, on the other side of the South Island, nine innocent lives were lost when a skydving plane crashed on take-off at Fox Glacier. A month later five cyclists died in as many days. My heart broke when we created a page for a young mother and her unborn child lost in a car accident.
Then last week, back on the West Coast, the Pike River Coal Mine claimed 29 lives when a series of explosions occurred 2km underground.
International media flocked to report on the miners plight and we witnessed those in charge having to make some excruiatingly difficult choices to hold back rescue efforts as the mine remained unstable with high levels of toxic gases.
I wondered what I would have done just a few months earlier, during the big quake, had any of my children been trapped in a situation that was life threatening for me to save them. I feel certain I would have thrown myself into a fire to save anyone of them if even there was the smallest chance they were alive. So I can only imagine the pain and anger that the grieving families feel for the loss of their loved ones – the fathers, brothers, sons and uncles – who they may never be able to recover from the depths of the mine now.
How can all the families cope with such sudden and unexpected losses?
Some will argue that skydiving and coal mining are dangerous things to do and come with inherent risks. But that doesnt quite cut it for me. These losses are huge and it seems the West Coast has had more than its fair share of tragedy.
Then last weekend I went to the funeral of a friend who died after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was only 47. We’d met almost 30 years ago and, while not close friends, we’ve been in touch over the years through other friends. He leaves behind two small children and a beautiful, strong and wonderful wife.
It struck me how grossly unfair losing someone is, whether it’s unexpected or not, and that we are faced with our own mortality and our loved ones everyday. But then, at my friends funeral, the Reverend officiating poetically put things in such a way that reminded me that it’s not about what we’ve lost, its what we’ve had and what we’ve got to give now that matters. It was uplifting and motivating and I wanted to share it.
For the fatherless children, some too young to ever really know their fathers, we have a duty to remember their Dad, to share the stories we have, to write down our memories and, most importantly, not avoid the families because we dont know what to say.
Even though they may, for some time, reject our offers for a visit, outing or catch-up, dont give up or disppear from their lives, they have already lost too much.
Keep in touch, and the time will come when they will say “Yes”
These past few months, even though I have all the excuses in the world, has given me a big shake up. I am not a good friend, I’m hopeless at keeping in touch as I get consumed in work and family and work … and family …… and ……
I know I need to re-evaluate my priorities and not lose sight of the big picture …… life as we know it is finite, so best get on and live it well!