Like many New Zealanders, I have felt a little lost since Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch. I have cried, watched the news reports, turned off the telly because it all became too painful, and have felt speechless, bereft, impotent.
At 12.51 on Tuesday I was sitting upstairs in my office, working on my novel when the room started shaking side to side. My first thought was, oh shit, Christchurch. Then ten minutes later, when the room started rocking side to side again, my thoughts moved to oh, god, no. My worst fears were confirmed shortly after, and the disbelief and grieving for a city began.
I feel blessed that I haven't lost loved ones, that my Christchurch friends are safe, although they don't feel it. Like most other Kiwis I feel amazed by their resilience and courage, and baulk at the thought of the lengthy road ahead to getting their lives back to normal and rebuilding the city. For many who have lost their loved ones, life will never be normal.
Even though Dunedin is 4 to 5 hours drive away from Christchurch, life here has changed. There has been an influx of people into the city, I have watched the headlights of the constant stream of traffic come down State Highway One each night. I imagine there is even more during the day. The supermarket shelves here are pretty empty as the food is going to those who need it most. The boys' school has seen an influx of kids from Christchurch, whose parents have whisked them away from it all, for however long. Many friends have extras staying in their baches and spare bedrooms. My forensics friends and colleagues are off to help with the daunting task of victim identification.
I am buoyed and grateful to the many people who are reaching out to Christchurch and helping, and again, the international blogging community has rallied around too, with many having donation buttons on their webpages, and some even setting up appeals.
Thanks to Margot Kinberg, from the U.S.A. at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist for setting up her Lets All Do the Write Thing raffle. Also to Penelope Todd and author Dorothee Kocks from Rosa Mira Books - Until the 7th of March they will donate all the proceeds from sales of Dorothee's ebook The Glass Harmonica to Christchurch's Mayoral Fund.
I think it's the kids' questions that make it all hit home hardest. Why did this happen Mum? Did many people die? Can it happen here? Will they rebuild the Cathedral? What happened to the fish in the big aquarium?
Lots of questions I can't answer.