On Tuesday 22 February at 12.51pm I was leaning into the back of my car unbuckling my darling Sam, when the car rocked and bucked so violently, and with such gathering speed, I was thrown back onto our driveway. Sam fell, freed from his harness, into the floor well of the car. Instinctively I prevented the door from slamming on his tiny hand with my head.
I looked up at our house and heard the smashing and crashing, and saw the light in the sitting room swing on its metre long chain up to the ceiling and back, an unlikely pendulum. The painting over the mantle turned 90 degrees and then jumped off the wall. Bookcases on either side of the fireplace emptied their contents, top shelf down. The amplifier and dvd player hung over the shelf by their cords. The speakers broken on the floor.
At the same time, the earth opened up and starting gushing silt and sand and water at an astonishing speed down our side path. I could not see how it would stop. Water flowed until the following morning.
Inside was completely tipped up - like a tornado had torn through. The bedroom doors were jammed closed by the fallen furniture behind. A double-sash window in our kitchen was shaken so violently, the top sash pulled away from the lock and fell down. The down-light in the kitchen snug fell from the ceiling. A free-standing dresser in our kitchen, laden with crockery, jumped across the floor an entire metre, likewise a sideboard. Miraculously, nothing broke within.
The fridge spewed its contents onto the floor. In the dining room, the floor was strewn with broken glass - every item of stem-ware smashed.
And while I desperately tried my husband's cell phone, people in our CBD were dying or were already dead. More than 700 buildings fell, another 900 plus have been deemed unsafe. And in every building there were people, and every person has a story.
I don't know what to say. I don't know how to find a way back into blogging that isn't obsessed with this tragedy.
The very first funeral of the quake victims was for little Baxtor Gowland - 5 months old. He was born 13 days after September 4, the day of our magnitude 7.1 earthquake. He lived through more than 2,500 aftershocks of note and died in the biggest.
While I was hugging my neighbour and reassuring her it was ok, that I had seen one of her middle sons, little Baxtor's body was being rushed by builders towards the hospital, in a city now gridlocked by devastation. The police took over and then the ED staff, but he was gone.
And as if his death is not so heartbreaking in and of itself, Baxtor was the surviving twin, born prematurely. Somehow, that completely undoes me.