You know the old saying, 'smile, for things could be worse'...
On September 4th, when the earth first shook and part of our blue brick wall fell down, we were smiling. After all, we'd just gone through a massive seismic event and only lost part of a wall. There were people worse off than us, in Darfield and Kaiapoi, as well as Christchurch, who'd lost their homes or had massive fissures in the front lawn. We were lucky, we counted our blessings and we marvelled at our collective good fortune to have come through as a region with no loss of life.
On September 11th, when the nice structural engineer told us that our house was unsafe to occupy, we were smiling. After all, we had insurance cover for things like this, so we decamped to a Riccarton Rd motel unit with two bedrooms and a spa bath, which saw the kids sharing a room for the first time in about 14 years. We spent the next week frantically clearing out the house before anyone came round to tell us we couldn't go in there at all. There were people worse off than us after all, people who had no chance at all to retrieve possessions because their homes just completely collapsed. We sorted & boxed, we stacked & packed & looked for a place to live.
In mid-September, when the lovely EQC inspector from Australia took less than 2 minutes to deliver his blunt assessment, we were still smiling. After all, even though the house was likely to be a write-off, we were making our way through the assessment process quickly which bode well for a quick resolution, a prompt payout and then plans for a new home.
On Boxing Day (December 26th), when the in-laws and the aftershocks arrived hand in hand, we were smiling. Sure, we lost power in the middle of cooking lunch but the ham was pre-cooked and the BBQ was pressed into service yet again. It sure gave the out-of-towners some interesting tales to share with the neighbours back home and in the end, lunch turned out just fine.
On February 22nd, when the smaller yet more violent & deadly quake hit C-city, we were smiling. Hubby was grinning despite having just been thrown around the MRI scanner - mainly thanks to the happy pills they'd given him beforehand. As we rocked and rolled through the next few days, we were smiling. Although there were some rather large cracks in the house we were living in, it still felt safe enough and we already had another rental lined up to move into. Across the road, people's houses were being condemned, their front yards slumping towards the silt-clogged stream-bed. We were doing ok, there were people much worse off than us, and we would soon be moving back into our home suburb, close to our broken blue house.
On Monday June 13th, when Vbase announced their proposed staffing changes, we were smiling. All six employees in hubby's department would be transferred across to the city council. There were many job cuts mooted but the future looked bright. Hubby was booked in for surgery that afternoon to fix his ruptured disc and would then be on the mend after months of pain and discomfort.
On Monday June 13th, when our fractured landscape bucked and heaved yet again, we were smiling. Although hubby's surgery got cancelled, the expected casualties from various collapsed buildings were less than feared and no-one died in the rubble this time round.
On Friday that same week, on the basis of new assessments done at AMI stadium, it was announced that two positions would be cut from hubby's department and all staff had to reapply for their jobs. Interviews were held and fingers crossed. We were still smiling, we felt pretty safe, there were people facing worse odds in this process - in some departments over half the positions had gone.
On Wednesday June 22nd, a phone call at lunchtime confirmed the worst. We regret to inform you blah blah blah... It was a very close decision yadda yadda yadda... We weren't smiling much that day. Sure, there are still people facing worse situations than us - people who are living in unlivable houses, without running water or working sewage, without insurance or facing massive losses in equity - but ya know, right now I'm just focused on my little patch. Tonight hubby finally has his surgery and - touch wood, spit, cross fingers - so far today there haven't been any major shakes. Not long to go. Please, just be quiet for a little while longer.
But after all this, will we stay?
We keep smiling, and lo & behold, things keep getting worse.
There are fewer reasons every week for us to stick around and fight through this.
One thing at a time however... the longest night has just begun.