I find living after the earthquake is rather like that feeling you got as a small kid. The one where in the middle of the night you are desperate to go to the toilet but are too scared to in the dark. So you wait until the very last minute, when you can’t bear it any longer and you rush barefoot down the hall, expecting at any minute something to jump out at you, heart racing. Even if you know it is silly. You do what you have to do as fast as you can and then rush back again, only safe once you have leapt into bed.
After the earthquake it seems I am constantly waiting for an aftershock. Expecting one at any moment. Just waiting for an aftershock to jump out at you, heart racing. Even if you know it is silly. You do what you have to do in different ways, as fast as you can, so you can “feel safe” again.
Even though we have been so so lucky in still having our home, our things, our family, the effect of the earthquake seems to be everywhere. I was at home with the babies when the second earthquake on February 22 happened. I’m not scared of many things but earthquakes definately freak me out. I have to admit that today is the first time I went back into our study, which is the room I was in at the time of the earthquake. Maybe I felt like if I went back into that room under the same conditions (which is what I did today), that the same thing would somehow happen again.
I noticed today that there are things that have changed around the house and in the way we do things since 2 weeks ago. Often not deliberately might I add. Our coffee table or a sofa now sits in front of our tv, so it doesn’t fall in an earthquake and hurt our toddler, like the little boy who was killed on Feb 22. I try to keep both babies within close proximity at all times, and definately check them much more than I used to when they are sleeping (not sounding like a bad mother before the quake!). There are now no pictures on our walls in case they should fall. If something is at the other end of the house that I need I get it quickly so that I can be near the babies again as quick as possible. And when I go to relax (like the other night when I took a cup of tea to bed to read my book) I hold my breath a bit, expecting one at any moment. Which often actually seems to happen. The aftershocks often seem to pick up in the late evening through to bedtime.
Though we haven’t been through Christchurch much since the quake, the times we have its been a bit strange driving with all the new “judder bars” and the army, police and a tank on street corners near the city. And when you think of something you need and have to wonder if you can actually get it in the city any more.
So far though the babies haven’t really been affected. Other than a quake when I was breastfeeding little baby and gave her a fright when I jumped, and one when I was feeding my big baby in her high chair and took her out when the glasses behind her rattled near then edge of the shelf, there haven’t been many aftershocks that I can recall when they haven’t been in their beds. I’m glad they are too small to understand. For them they sleep through the big quakes and then get a holiday at Grandma and Grandad’s for a while until things are ok to go home again. They will grow up in a new built Christchurch, not knowing what changed.
I look forward to the days in the future, when there are no quakes and my heart doesn’t race at the smallest things (is that a truck going past or an earthquake?) and we can tell our little ones about the quakes they survived when they were young and how they didn’t even realise that they were happening as life around us changed.