A little after midnight, DH and I were woken by the bed trembling beneath us. Living and having grown up in the capital city of New Zealand, this was nothing too concerning. Until the shaking didn’t subside after about ten seconds. DH, man of quick reflexes even at night, leaped out of bed to stand under the door frame. I’m a little, how shall I say, slower in my reflexes and muttered something like yeah-meh-nah and stayed under the covers–then the shaking got a lot worse. So, I moved, fast, and scrambled to stand beside my hubby. We braced, held on, and I screamed like a little girl as the biggest, most violent quake I’ve ever experienced shook our house from side to side like a puppy whipping his head back and forth with a chew toy in its mouth. Crashes were coming from in front of us (a vase went flying and my mum’s beautiful china tea sets in the living room flew out of the cabinet I found later) and behind us, more crashes and thumps as books and papers and all the various crap one keeps around went poltergeisting off the shelves. I could see my son in the doorway opposite us (thankfully) but there was absolutely zero chance that I could make it to Miss 16’s bedroom because no solid ground existed beneath our feet and it was just too dangerous. Terrifying. The shaking/swaying/rolling took a looong time to stop.
During this time, the only thing I could think of was my family. And as soon as were were safe, my extended family and friends. Thank God our mobile phones were working and we were fortunate enough not to lose the power. I can honestly say, I’ve never been so scared in my life. Then the aftershocks started coming, and holy crap, they kept on coming.
We got the worse of the broken glass off the floor and decided to leave the rest until the morning. Good luck to us trying to get any sleep at this point. Master 19 had disappeared back into his room, and we’d got my 82 year old father back to bed. Miss 16 was still too traumatized to think of sleep – especially as the big chest of drawers in her room had completely fallen over. But we tried. Unsuccessfully, considering the bed continued to shake under us every few moments. Then the phone rang, a friend calling to tell us a tsunami warning had been issued for our area since we are on flat land near the coastline. As a child growing up in this suburb, my greatest fear was a tsunami–so you can imagine the pounding of my heart as we grabbed our bag with important papers, shoved kittys Kevin and Alfie into a carrier (unfortunately our 3rd cat had slipped outside and we didn’t have time to find her – update, she’s fine!), loaded up the car with us and my dad, and headed to higher ground to the friend who’d called us.
We arrived to their house with an almost party atmosphere (we Kiwis are a resilient, stoic bunch, even when we’re scared) and there were 20 of us crammed into their living room, (more refugees arrived after us too) including 2 dogs and 3 cats. We drank hot tea and ate potato chips, listening to the TV and hurting to the stories of so much damage in our beautiful country. The tsunami warning was lifted around 5:00 a.m and we were able to return just as dawn was breaking. We managed to doze for a couple of hours before we got up to tackle the clean up. I’m so thankful for the safety of family and friends, and that the damage in our house was only superficial. Other places in New Zealand were much harder hit, and sadly, two people have lost their lives.
One thing is clear in my mind this Monday morning. Family is important. Friends are important. Our fur-babies are important. Stuff, is just stuff.