When a disaster hits, you always hear stories about miracles. Someone didn't leave on time for their jog. Any other day they would have been there. They would have gone if they hadn't come down sick. They woke up, heard something strange and rolled out of bed just in time.
Normally I don't pay so much attention to these - while it's great for that person and their family and friends, I always assume that for each of those, there was probably someone who was on time to walk their dog, who went into work on their day off, who didn't have sick leave, who was a heavy sleeper. But not on September 4, 2010. That day we had the lucky escapes without the tragedies. No one died that morning. And for the rest of the year, people continued to not die, even on Boxing Day when the quake hit in the middle of the day. It seemed like luck was looking out for us.
Probably no one expected that that luck would get cashed in six months later, and now nothing is the same. This last year seems to have consumed everything that we once considered normal and replaced it, with helicopters, with empty sections, with FOR SALE signs on houses still standing, with portaloos and septic tanks, with safety fences, red zones, green zones, soldiers, bulldozers, EQC claims, magnitudes and liquefaction and water tables. I've watched videos taken in the CBD without recognising exactly where they were filmed; photos seem to be completely lacking in context.
The city is more than buildings though. Some of us have left, and I imagine Christchurch will always mean something to them, and many of us have stayed, and I know it will always live in our hearts. Tonight I visited someone who I'd never heard of at this time last year, and we watched 80s movies and drank and laughed a lot, and not that many months ago I'm not sure how easy that would have been. Time makes things easier, but it will never entirely bring back the world we used to live in.
To all those who have been lost to the earthquakes (probably 200 or more now), rest in peace, and kia manawanui. We will never forget.