Recently, I sent out a request for others to share their memories of the Christchurch earthquakes that occurred five years ago. To my pleasant surprise, some have come forward with stories so moving that I felt it was important to share them with the world. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the stories sent to me about that day as well as sharing a few of my own. The February 2011 quake changed our lives forever, but has made the city of Christchurch a stronger community.
Below is a poem from Jennifer Wilson, detailing her horrifying experience from her home which was located in the suburb of Bexley.
The Day that Changed Our Lives
by Jennifer Wilson
With lunch in hand up the stairs I ran,
The noise was horrific like a 747 about to land.
I leapt to my feet; the shaking was violent,
there are creaking sounds.
This monster has my house in its grip, shaking it to its core.
Like a surfer in rough seas I strive to balance, to stand, arms flailing.
Stepping over items on the floor I head for the back door.
There's a gushing sound, a pipe has burst:
there's water all around.
I wade through to the grass, an aftershock hits, I scream hysterically.
My son tries to calm me.
My house has sunk. The port-loo is flat on its back,
on my house there are large gaping cracks; a thick grey mud covers the ground.
The water is rising, soon it will be inside.
The water won't stop, oh how we tried.
I phone my other son, there is no sound.
The phone lines are dead. Where is he, is he alright? I'm scared.
It's too much to take, I sit on the grass... I wait.
Bexley is like a river in flood, there's chaos and destruction all around.
Crying mothers wade through the waters, desperate to get to their child’s school.
I can't help them, my own eyes pool.
An aftershock hits, a sewage pipe bursts,
like a witches brew it bubbles up from the earth
and flows down into my house.
My heart it breaks. Lord what will I do? My life in this house is done.
My eldest son, I have not heard, there's still no word.
Please bring him home, it's been four long hours.
I feel alone and helpless. I'm drowning in fear. Lord, are you there?
Where will we live? Where will we stay tonight?
His voice I hear. You are not alone. I am with you. Do not fear.
My cell phone rings, it is my son... he's alright.
He's coming home, he has found a bike. I cried.
Aftershocks continue. I'm too frightened to go inside.
The steps have sunken; my son lays down planks
to retrieve the items that have survived.
My sons were amazing. For them I give thanks.
Lord, where to from here, what lies ahead?
At a friend's place we stayed for just a few nights
then a house was found—we would be alright.
Help came from strangers and from friends,
so we were able to start again.
Kitchen items, linen, blankets and beds were found:
shoes, food and much, much more. I was spell bound.
I'm very grateful for them all. What a blessing they were.
They will always hold a place in my heart.
The days were like a merry go round, too much to do.
The pain, the loss, will I get through?
Please give me the strength for our new start.
I have my sons; Lord I trust in you.
God has restored what the locusts have eaten.
I kept my faith.
I will not be beaten.
About the poet:
Jennifer Wilson was born in Christchurch and finished her education at Avonside Girls High. In 2012, she published her first book, describing how one woman sheltered and protected her children from her husband's devastating bi-polar illness. For the past two years, she has hosted a children's program on local radio, where she presents many of her stories. Jennifer is currently working on her next book which she hopes to publish this year.
If you have a story that you would like to share, I want to hear it. Visit here for more information on Project Share Your Stories.