I wrote this while at the airport waiting for my flight home after the Wellington earthquake hit at midnight (a week ago now). I was meant to be doing work but for once my ability to compartmentalise totally failed me; my brain felt like scrambled eggs. I have never been in an earthquake. It was without question the most terrifying and longest night of my life.
I was staying on the top floor (the 9th floor) of the hotel (will never will do that again). At midnight I was woken with some shaking and thought “what is this?”, felt nauseous and then, as my brain caught up to what was happening, realising the whole building was swaying and shaking from side to side and things started falling – the fridge, the ironing board and I was like “holy crap this is actually happening.”
My heart thumping I got out of bed and was basically thrown against the desk I was trying to get under. I literally thought “oh my god, this is it, and I am not going make it out alive….My boys! My boys” – I was scrambling for my phone lying on top of the desk and trying to get under it at the same time, desperately attempting to recall what I last said to my babies. I tried ringing my husband while under the desk but it did not go through at all. I thought “the whole building is going to come down and I can’t even say good bye….”
And then after what felt like an eternity but in reality was only minutes…the shaking stopped. I was not breathing. I could hear people opening their doors. I grabbed my jacket, phone and barefoot (in pajamas) ran out of my room looking for the stairs. By this time I was finding it hard not to panic. Another guy opened his room and looked at my face and said follow me –and we both started running down the stairs – all 9 floors of them.
We could see all the walls cracked and plaster all over the stairs. My heart was going a million miles an hour. We made it outside and across the street. All the while I was ringing my husband and not able to get hold of him. My sister text me, thank goodness she could get through. Also messages started showing up on Facebook people asking if everyone was ok. I was able to message a friend of mine this way. It was good to connect to another human being I knew, as I felt so alone. The staff were exceptional, but I could tell they were stressed and totally out of their depth – I do not blame them, they too would have never experienced this and were the ones that had to go back inside the building and check that everyone was out.
Finally I got hold my husband but this stage the quake had moved to Auckland and he had both boys awake and scared as well. We were outside for over two hours while the building was cleared and checked. I was trying to decide if I should go straight to the airport or not and then the tsunami warning came through – so I thought I better stay put. I did get all my belongings from my room – never packed up so fast in my life. A group of us managed to get some mattresses and pillows down to the conference room on the bottom level. From about 3am-6am we half slept, half lay there feeling every single aftershock and praying that there would not be more quakes and that morning would come. I ‘slept’ dressed and in my shoes ready to run at any point.
It is funny how a few minutes can completely change your perspective on life. Just a few days before I blogged about not waiting on your dreams, on not knowing what is around the corner. Seeing my life flash before my eyes made me re-evaluate everything in like one minute.
Made me think about the work I do just because I feel I have to. Think about the friends I have not seen in ages. Think about the stupid arguments I have been having with Vijay lately. Think about how I want to have some special one-on-one time with Smushie during the week like I do with Arjun and have not been able to. In particular, I have been thinking about putting off the deadline to my book as it seems too overwhelming – NOT ANY MORE.
I have a legacy to leave behind, I have the chance, a once in a life-time chance to do it, and by darn am I not going to put that off – no matter what it takes.
Life is just so short, this week has reminded me of that with a jolt.
While I wish it did not take an earthquake for me to reassess just what is so important to me – and to be so grateful for what I have rather then getting stuck into what I do not have and the constant comparing with others…it has and so here I am grabbing life with everything I have and then some.
I have not got it all quite worked out how I will put into place the things that are so important to me, or exactly how I will manage the deadline to my book, but I will give it my best shot. I will keep making an active effort to focus on what I do have, not what I do not have, even all the things I am finding hard right now.
Because we just never know what tomorrow may bring,
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale
Disclaimer: To all of those who experienced the earthquake and were affected by it my heart really goes out to you. This blog is written as a way to share my own personal experiences and feelings .If you are concerned about post-traumatic stress, anxiety or any health concerns after the earthquake please contact your GP, Life-Line (0800 543 354) or one of our mental health services.