It’s been a while since we have written to you both boys. Life sort of turned on its head in January with the flood. Oh my gosh another flood, we couldn’t believe it. So now I’ll tell you the story, and the biggest lesson I have learnt from this – so far. Get back up.
Before ‘the day’
The day prior (4th of January 2018) there had been a warning about a storm coming, so I packed us up a bag (just in case) thinking we wouldn’t need it. We had only been home a night after being away for New Years. Papa actually wanted to go and stay in town but I didn’t want to and I insisted we stay. Was that a good decision or not? There’s pros and cons but I won’t get into that now.
We didn’t sleep much that night. That had become a pattern during bad weather. We would listen and be on alert so you sleep so lightly when you’re in this state. When we woke up the next morning I thought, awesome we dodged that bullet! We had no power though so we just carried on and Papa pulled out his little gas cooker so we could make porridge. I decided to walk the dogs.
When I crossed the road the sea was already right up on the shorefront. This wasn’t normal but I thought wow this sure is a high tide. The wind was so strong. The only thing I can liken it to, is the feeling of putting your head out the car window and you can’t breathe (I use to do this a lot as a little kid). It was rediculously strong. So strong I considered going home because I could barely breathe, but I wanted to give the dogs a walk, so I carried on. Then I noticed people were stopping down by the school, which is when I realised that the tide was coming over the road. Hmm I thought this is a really high tide. Then a fire truck came and people started turning around. I decided not to go any further and turn around. So lucky I didn’t go any further. As I was walking back I could see that the tide was coming across the road down the other end. I hadn’t ever seen this before. Still I wasn’t overly shaken. The tide had started coming closer lately so I didn’t consider it would come any further.
When I arrived back home I told Papa he should go out and look at the tide and how far it had come. I watched him walk outside then I saw other neighbours also going out too. It was probably at that moment when I saw the look of concern on Papa’s face that I knew this could be an issue. “You and the boys need to go,” Papa said when he came back. There was a real sense of urgency so I put you Haeata in the carrier and I quickly packed some food. Initially the plan was to go a few houses down the road to the neighbour’s but then one of the fire crew came and said we had to get out. If the river burst we would be stuck. It wasn’t even high tide by this point, there was still about 15 minutes – it was going to get worse. Panic was setting in. Papa ran to get the dogs and we quickly jumped in the truck. By now we were running. Papa started the truck and as we were backing out the water was streaming into our property. Across the road the water was already up to their deck.
In the midst of it
Driving out was a moment of complete fear and the overwhelming feeling of ‘not again’. Seeing the water everywhere was devastating. In that moment too, both Papa and I were worried something would happen to the truck, that it might ‘konk out’ or be hit by a log. More than anything I was worried for you boys. Worried that you Rakeiora would have to go through this all again and worried how the next minutes, hours, days would pan out.
Once we got to a place where there wasn’t any water we stopped. Papa asked whether he should go back and try and help (save) the cats and chickens. Yes was my immediate answer. Our old girl Shyla wasn’t very mobile and she wouldn’t be able to get up high. To be honest in that moment I didn’t even consider his safety. I suppose I consider Papa to be so strong that he can get through anything – luckily he did. Once he was home and had moved the cats I felt better. I can still remember talking to him and hearing Shyla crying through the phone. Then I was worried for Papa – he sounded shaken.
From this point on my boys, I was so scared and so worried. Worried for our animals, worried for our home and worried for Papa. In the bigger scheme of things, I was worried for our life and what we were going to have to go through.
The next few hours were tough. Trying to hold it together for you boys in a time like this wasn’t easy. Hearing you cry Rakeiora when we thought we had lost our chickens was so sad. I wished so much that we could have protected you from this again. Hindsight my boys is a telling story. We actually could have but we never considered the likelihood that this would happen again so soon. So for this, I say ‘sorry’. We’re trying to fix it now. We won’t let there be a third time.
I remember waking up the next morning at Nan and Koro’s house and my first thought was, ‘oh no, this is real, it’s not a nightmare’.
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When Papa received a call from Nan two nights later, our world was rocked again. Koro had suffered a stroke. It was around 10:45pm at night. Papa took off to get Nan and go and be by Koro. We didn’t know much at this point. As the next few days followed, it came to light how severe this was and when we went in to see Koro, it was so hard to see him in such a vulnerable state. You realise in these moments boys how precious life is. The human body can be so amazingly strong but you also see how fragile it can be too.
The next few days are a bit of a blur right now. What I do remember, is all the amazing people who helped us. Neighbours and friends who just stepped up and helped through providing somewhere for us to stay, cleaning, clearing rubbish, sorting through our belongings, loaning us things and cooking – just amazing. Family who came to help sort and clean – it was so awesome to have them there. Especially while Papa was still away at the hospital by Koro and Nan. As each day came there seemed to be improvement with Koro so we sure were counting our blessings.
I actually thought I was handling everything pretty well boys, until we lost Shyla our cat. She had gone missing a few days earlier and I was so relieved when she just showed up one morning when I went over home to feed her. I had never been happier to see her. She was so old and had been struggling so I was really worried about how she was going to get through all this with what would have to happen to the house and all the people around.
So when we lost in her the tragic way it happened, both Papa and I were devastated. To be honest, at this point we were broken. Yes she was a cat but she wasn’t ‘just a cat’ to us. She was a part of our family for 17 years. I hadn’t really known life without Shyla. To lose her was like a tangible loss in this whole ordeal. This was definitely the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.
At this point boys, I was really low. Hopefully neither of you ever have to feel it, but it’s like being stuck and not wanting to wake up. This sure felt like an uppercut combo of a crap deal. I don’t ever ask myself ‘why us’ because to be honest ‘why not’. And again, there are much worse things that could have happened and happen daily to other people so I do get that. But, at this point in time, I was feeling like I didn’t want to get back up. If it wasn’t for you boys, it would have been easy to stay low, but the daily requirement to be there for you, makes you get back up.
Many nights following this, Papa and I would sit in the chairs at the house where we were staying, looking out to the sky. We would reflect and talk and share our thoughts and feelings and try and plan. This actually was a time that brought us both closer together. As hard as these times were, I’ll always remember these particular moments fondly. I also received some really wise words from a few people too and again, we had some great people around us who did things to bring a smile to the day.
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The learning from this – get back up
So boys, finally getting to my message. There will be times in your life no doubt, that will knock the wind from you, pull you from your feet and challenge every bit of strength you have. It’s ok to accept that these will be hard times and no doubt boys, they will be hard. Such is the unpredictability of life. However, once you have had your time accepting how tough the situation is, get back up. Make a plan and move forward. It may take a while but chip away at that plan and ask for help if you need it. Sometimes you might think people know what you need but don’t assume that, just ask.
Each day will get better boys. Time will heal any pain and new goals will motivate you to carry on.
You must get back up.
P.S. Oh and if your house is too low raise it up! Or just don’t buy a house at risk of this in the first place 😉
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