I remember

Christchurch…I remember…

Place of my birth.

I remember, a young teenager, living in Oxford, going into Christchurch with a friend for the weekend. Our first trip into town by ourselves. We stayed in Sumner with my Oma and Opa and spent our days shopping. I remember buying my first bottle of spray on deodorant. Impulse. I remember feeling so grown-up.

I remember coming into Christchurch at other times with other friends. I remember one time at my Dad’s work, eating hot mince pies with a friend, (her forgetting that she was a vegetarian till she had consumed over ¾ of hers), then shopping and going to see a movie. Still young teenagers…still feeling so grown-up.

I remember trying to sneak into ‘Scream’, at Hoyts on Moorhouse Ave before I was sixteen, and getting my sixteen year old friend to buy our tickets for us. That was before they got the large comfy chairs…but we didn’t notice! They were big and comfy to us.

I remember my first flat with my best friend and her sister in Bryndwr. We froze in winter and scorched our way through summer. Snuggling in douvet’s in the living room, hot-chocolates in hand, trying to keep warm while watching Shortland St during those miserable winter nights. I remember the feeling of pride at coming home after teacher’s college and using my own keys to open the door. I remember the three of us sharing a car and the days I had to walk the 40 minutes to and from college in the pouring rain. I remember enviously eyeing all those passers-by in their toasty warm vehicles. I remember wondering why I got so many curious stares on my journey home, till I saw my refection in the mirror and realised that my dripping make-up made me look somewhat devilish.

I remember the next flats I moved into. Hagley Ave, Ruskin Street, Tilford Street, Stanmore Road. Each one getting progressively less ‘student flat’, and slightly more ‘working woman home’.

I remember my annual New Years resolutions resulting in morning runs through Hagley Park. I remember being taught how to spin fire sticks and fire poi’s, being mesmerised by the fire spinning through the inky blackness of the Hagley Park night.

I remember my wedding day. The beautiful ceremony in the Majestic theatre, photo’s in His Lordships Lane, and up on the Port Hills. I remember the stunning reception in The Octagon restaurant. The classic wood and grey brick complimenting the modern leather chairs. I remember feeling so blessed to be married in such a gorgeous building. The perfect combination of picturesque and stylish.

I remember our first home as a married couple. Bealey Ave. I remember waking early, putting on my running gears and breathing in the crisp morning air as I ran the short distance from our apartment to dewy Hagley Park, my New Years resolutions finally having taken hold.

I remember teaching at St Michael’s Church School in the City. I remember feeling blessed to be teaching in such a lovely school. To be able to attend services at the oldest church in Christchurch. I remember walking into the city on my lunch breaks, or going for coffee’s with my Mum after school on a Friday. I remember thinking I had the perfect job, in the perfect position amongst the bustle of this beautiful city.

I remember the homesickness I felt when we moved over to London to spread our travelling wings. Missing the down-to-earth friendliness of the people who make up home, Christchurch. Missing the excellent customer service. The calm of the city in comparison to the masses of the crowded London streets.

I remember our first visit home for a family wedding after 6 months in London. The feeling of being home. I remember the complete appreciation of what we had left behind. I remember being taken on a tour of Christchurch by one of our friends, as though we could have forgotten the city’s beauty. Going up the Port Hills to the ‘The Cup’ to watch the sun rise over the city. Walking along the beach at Sumner. Appreciating the good coffee that only can be found in Christchurch.

I remember seeing the news of the first earthquake. I remember the awe I felt that no one was hurt.

I remember receiving the texts from some friends in Europe and London asking if my family was OK. I remember turning on the TV. I remember seeing destruction and hearing the words, ‘Christchurch earthquake, 68 dead’. I remember the shock I felt. I remember the tears streaming down my face as I tried to call and text everyone back home. I remember the hour which felt like eternity as I kept trying to get through to my loved ones, just to know they were safe. I remember the indescribable relief at hearing their voices, and seeing their written words, ‘We are ok’. Just knowing they were safe. I remember the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realised that not everyone was this lucky.

I remember reading, watching, searching for every news article or piece of information. I remember the pride I felt as I watched Kiwi’s pull together to help each other, exhausted, and despairing, but not without hope. I remember seeing news of a wedding. She having been buried under the rubble, him digging her out, their special day, only hours later. I remember seeing tired yet brave faces, realising the tragedy, yet still managing to smile.

I remember hearing personal accounts of the devastation. Personal experiences of pain and fear and loss. So much loss. I remember feeling helpless. I remember wishing I were home. Wishing I were there to help. Wishing there were something I could do…could have done.
I remember the loss I felt of what could never be recovered.

I look now to what can be. What will be. I see a community united by this awful tragedy. I see a body of people working together, drawing on each other. I see people giving, sharing, living as one. I see a spirit which can never be destroyed. Not only in Christchurch, but throughout New Zealand. I see Kiwi’s. And I am proud! Proud of you all back home. Proud that I can be counted amongst you, as one of you.

Our precious Christchurch…you will never be as you were…but we remember…we will always remember! You live on in our hearts!

By Josephine Holmes

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