December 1, 2010

Pike River disaster - the Twenty Nine

Pike River Official Remembrance Service: 2 minutes' silence at 2.00 pm, Thursday 02 December

We Will Live
by Helen Wilson

We must live, get on with our lives.

I am someone who lives here, and I am no one in particular.

I am not a close relative, just relatively close.

I live amongst you, work with you, pass you on the street,

and as luck would have it, I came home again.

I went to work on that Friday as you did. That's all.

My labrador ready for a run when I got home, my lawnmower and fishing rod waiting eagerly for the weekend.

I lived, and should have got on with my life.
But as I write, my neighbourhood is at a standstill, and I am with them,

paralysed by the enormity of despair, guilt and helplessness.

My lawns have bloomed dandelions, my dog, bored, is digging holes in the weeds.

The media says we are a close-knit community. I prefer to think we are tightly bound to be here,

because living here is not a normal, comfortable life but a strong and uncertain existence;

forever at the whim of our surroundings, we go up the back and go down the mine, up the hill and across the bar.

The earth moves, the winds strike, the rain falls, and the hills remind us of their omnipotence.

We nod to each other in the street in a quiet way because we understand we have lived more than most and we really know how to get on with our lives.

And in a flash, life has stopped us in our tracks and can never be the same.

And in the days after Friday and the anguish, as if we had forgotten and needed a remedial lesson,

we are reminded what it is that is most precious about our community.

And in our despair, we are kinder to each other. We spend more time. We knit ourselves tighter and we behave a little better,

and that in itself brings us the comfort we need.

We will mourn some more, and then wearying of that, we will remember this day and what it is to be alive.

And in the memory of those we have lost, we will promise to be kinder to each other,

Because we have learned all over again what is important and what is not.

To do this gives purpose to their lives, and some sanction for their death.

This weekend I will mow my lawns, retrieve my dog from her pit, and the greyest kahawai will not be safe.

And we will all live for them a little bit better and get on with our lives.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An absolute disaster happened in a country far from here - it happened in my homeland and those who perished were my countrymen. I watched the memorial service on CNN tonight with tears streaming and stood to sing the National Anthem with a very shaky voice. The youngest miner was just 17.

As the Prime Minister read out the names of the 29 who perished, a lone bird started to sing as if on cue.