There and Back Again: A Family’s Tale – Part 10 – Terrorism in Christchurch


Other parts to this series

Part 1Part 2Part 3
Part 4Part 5Part 6
Part 7Part 8Part 9
Part 10

Since wrapping up part 9 of this series a lot has happened in our lives.  We had arrived in New Zealand and were making our way, setting up our life.  At that point, we  were still in our first AirBNB.  We arranged house viewings, purchased a car, and set off to find a place to live.  It took about two weeks, but we finally found a place out in Rolleston.  Although it is 30 minutes from the city, the drive to work is virtually without traffic and should improve by next fall when the motor was is complete and the speed will be mostly 100KM/h.  The kids were enrolled in school and I let the folks at Inde know I was ready to start work.

The first few weeks following were fairly uneventful, we settled in naturally and were taken aback by the genuine, caring nature of all the people we met.  The office was filled with kind and welcoming people, and it was easy to get started.  Since that time, I’ve mainly been in a holding pattern while we await our container from the USA with our stuff.  We’ve been living a spartan life with a two inflatable chairs, inflatable beds, a few stools and basic kitchenware.  Life was good – Life is good.

On March 15, 2019, however, we were reminded that evil has no national boundaries and that hatred can spread if left unaddressed.  A terrorist entered a Mosque and began indiscriminately shooting worshipers.  At the time of this writing, the death toll stands at 49 – the worst act of violence in peacetime to hit New Zealand in the country’s history.  When the news came, it was quite shocking – it was a few kilometers from the office, actively unfolding.  At first, I had a sense of numbness:  It was happening again.  This time, however, it was different, it wasn’t like before:  The people here stand with each other – support each other, care for each other, and this was shocking and unacceptable.  A number of people reached out to me to let me know that this is NOT New Zealand, this is NOT what happens here, and that they are there to help if we need anything.  The sentient was greatly appreciated, although it did feel a bit strange as to me I felt as though I was the one who should be offering that to the kiwis, who had never experienced such tragic events on their shores like this. 

Though we’ve just moved here, I have a profound sense of community.  I am filled with hope at seeing the empathy and outpouring of love from the residents here, and I know deep down it is genuine compassion.  This type of event is shocking as it should be, and I have hope moving forward that there will be action, not gridlock, towards preventing a similar occurrence in the future.  Time will tell, but I do have the sense that this time we will get more than just thoughts and prayers.

Less than a day later, I sat here considering my family and our move as I re-read the notes from co-workers and friends we had met.  I looked on my phone and saw a picture of Daisy, one of our dogs we had left in the states.  I reached out to our breeder, who had been working on finding homes for the dogs.  The last time I spoke with her, Tui had a home, Daisy was on a trial and there was no home yet for Violet.  She let me know that Daisy has been permanently homed, and that Violet was going to join a family that had 2 of Violet’s little sisters.  This news hit me particularly hard.  I was very grateful to hear it, but as I read and re-read the message, again and again, I felt an aching in my heart.  I knew this feeling, it had happened before.  My chest tightened, and I struggled to breath; my mouth feel open to gasp for air that would not come, before a flood of cries in came out.  Again I gasped for air, trying to make sense of the feeling that had come over me, but I could do nothing but roll from my air mattress onto my knees on the floor and let the feelings pass.  The aching pain of what we had given up had come over me, and I had a tremendous sense of abandonment for the dogs whom we had left behind.  I know that they will be loved and well cared for, but it does not absolve my heart of the fact that I had left them behind, after promising to care for them.  Now I know they are safe, and they can move on to live their remaining days.

The loss of the dogs certainly seems small when compared to the events of the day, but in a way it was cathartic to know that they are safe, and in some small way I think it gave me an outlet to express the pain of the situation of the day.  We will join in our new community in Christchurch to rise above the pain and hurt from these latest events, and I know that we will be proud to be a part of this country that stands with one another in compassion and love to express the spirit of the people of Aotearoa. Kia kaha.

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