Many stories will be posted today from across New Zealand and overseas as Christchurch remembers the earthquake of February 22nd, 2011 and I won't go into much more detail other than to say, Olivia Carville has written about it beautifully in The Press.
But my own story is very different to hers. Christchurch earthquake is one of the main reasons why I've been able to stay in New Zealand long-term, as carpenters - along with every other building professional - went into sudden immigration skill shortages and my husband happened to be one of them, and so we were allowed - invited even! - to stay.
As crude as it sounds, I have benefitted from the quake much more than I have been inconvenienced by it. My experience has almost none of the trauma and only very little trouble. If anything, my main "problem" with this post-quake city is that the rental prices are borderline insane and that my husband is now working long, long hours to both keep us financially afloat and because this is what is now expected of builders around here, and that I am witnessing the turmoil of the repairs which don't always make sense.
But this year the anniversary of that quake has also made me wonder about death and suffering, and the way it gets portrayed and remembered, in general.
Whilst I get irritated by such minute things as toothpaste splatters around the kitchen sink and that my dog is shedding what looks like her entire fur and all of it onto our carpets, there is a genocide happening in Syria, with a death toll of over 100 000. From what I've heard, over 6 million people have been displaced - that is, have left their homes whilst not actually wanting to leave them and have done so out of necessity to (try to) stay alive. From where I am sitting on the sofa in our living room at 4 am, wiping my nose and drinking honey-sweetened tea because I have a cold and I am not allowed decongestants, there is very little I feel I can do to help it all. Instead, I continue witnessing the arguments surrounding the rebuild of Christchurch and just go on with my life which at the moment circles around nappies, Duplo blocks, preschool drop-offs, Vegemite toast and vacuuming my dogs hair off our carpet.
Meanwhile, there is a genocide happening in Syria.
And as I go on living my comfortable, safety-cushioned life, I continue to remind myself that when people today stick flowers onto road cones , place flowers into Christchurch's waterways and gather at the botanic gardens for a remembrance service of lives lost and damaged in the earthquake four years ago, the attention they give to this occasion doesn't lessen the importance of the horrific events happening in the Middle East right now, and in many other parts of the world.
Paying attention to remembering is not bad. It's what's happening there, is bad.
PS. Please do remember that this is written at 4 am whilst I am struggling to breathe through my blocked nose and my red-sore throat, whilst having had very little sleep to begin with, and so long-winded sentences and grammatical errors? Well... Kind of comes with the territory, I guess.