Earth, wind, fire. These are elements we’ve had to face this past week to remind us how precious life is. It started with the big quake Monday midnight. It was the strongest quake I’ve experienced since we’ve been in NZ for ten years now. Our bedroom is beneath our garage and when the quake shook our house, I could hear the ceiling/garage squeaking. I knew it wasn’t just a simple earthquake – I woke up Ronnel who automatically scooped up Axle as I woke up the girls on the floor bed. This was one of the benefits of sleeping in one room, I was waking them up, shouting “cover, drop, hold” to remind them of the instructions they’ve learnt from school. We were by the door when the shaking stopped. We went back to bed and everyone else slept as if the shake never happened. I couldn’t sleep. I could still feel my heart pounding with a million “what ifs” circling my head. Prayers helped still my heart and squelched the anxiety. I knew that if the garage collapsed on top of us, our bedroom would slide towards the houses underneath and we’ll probably be ok or worst scenario is, we’d be squashed by the cars and it would be quick and painless. I knew watching gore films with Ronnel won’t do me good. At this point, I’ve been exchanging texts with my friends, checking up on them. I’ve told my family members across the miles that we were ok. I still couldn’t sleep and went for my cure-all – my fantasyland, my dramaworld. I watched a drama—couldn’t even remember what it was—and was able to forget a bit and slept a couple of hours. The next morning greeted us with a tsunami alert, heavy rains and news of flooding in some areas. It was a flurry of text messages between me and my team, checking up on them, making sure they were ok. Some had to evacuate to higher ground – all I could offer were virtual hugs and prayers, especially to some I couldn’t contact. Thankfully, they were all ok. The following days were full of uncertainty, while our workplaces are being checked for safety. Fortunately, we were able to work remotely with the help of technology. It gave us time for self-reflection and time to spend with the family. On Tuesday, we heard vigorous knocking on our door. It was our neighbor letting us know, there’s a fire in her house and the fire trucks are on the way. Didn’t I say- earth, wind and fire? Fortunately, it was a minor incident but it still frightening especially for our neighbor, who I consider a good friend and my kids’ NZ mum as she’s been looking after our children for 7 years now. Once safety was confirmed, the next priority is to get things back to normal. The children were oblivious to the what-could-have-beens and what-might-be – kids will be kids but we made sure they knew what happened. We explained to them how blessed we are to have been unaffected, how we should be grateful and how we should help those who have been affected – and also to prepare for – just in case. We slept in the living room the following night with our bags near the stairs, ready for pick up in case we need to evacuate. We are hoping for the best, but ready to face the worst. In the meantime, we do what our family does best – stick together and enjoy each other’s company.
Axle was delighted with the firetruck visit in our neighborhood.
Kids thought we were camping in the living room.
Another way to get things back to normal is work. I attended a work conference on Thursday with around 130 like-minded people. I was part of the organizing committee so it was out of the question to not be there, plus I had the materials that were needed on the day and it wouldn’t sit right with me to ditch my responsibility, however little it was. The venue was deemed safe but there were still aftershocks felt throughout the day. I’m sure it was still quite unsettling for the participants but we trudged on. I had faith that it would go well. And it did.
The weekend went by peacefully despite the family being struck with a cold virus – starting with Axle’s temperature, then Ia, then Ronnel, sparing Aqui and me, we lived as if it was any other day. Our house is still a mess, the kids continue to squabble over little things (I’m sure it’s a big deal for them), Ronnel still watched NBA games and I continued to binge on my Korean and Japanese dramas at night. At first, I was worried about how ‘unworried’ we were, especially Ronnel. I am slightly jealous that he soundly sleeps at night, not worried about anything. I asked him about it and he reminded me of what real faith means – God has our back, if it’s our time, it’s our time – just like that movie Final Destination. Ok, this didn’t help me with the sleeping much but it helped my resolve to be reminded of what faith means to my family. It’s just like our bags in the doorway, we pray and hope for the best but are ready to face the worst.
Tomorrow, I’m back at work. I had a dream that while I was meeting with my boss, another earthquake occurred and we had to postpone our meeting. Dreams are usually about either our subconscious hopes or fears – this definitely was the latter. Regardless of the fear, the worries, we continue to live, love and have faith.