CEISMIC

Shared Remembrance

Reflecting on the anniversary of 22 February 2011

23/02/2015

Jennifer Middendorf from CEISMIC attended the River of Flowers memorial event in Deans Bush yesterday.  She reflects here on the day.

River of Flowers 2015

For four years now I’ve been coming here on this day, at this time, to sit beside the banks of the Avon River and mark the anniversary of the 22 February earthquake.  I’m starting to recognise familiar faces – we were here together last year, and the year before, and we’re back again this year despite the drizzle.

River of Flowers 2015

River of Flowers 2015 

The regulars know the routine: there’s a Tree of Hope to tie your messages to (the first year they were written on luggage tags, this year we’ve upgraded to professionally produced postcards), grab a flower from the pile if you haven’t brought your own, then sit and think, or chat, or watch the ducks go by, until the organiser announces it’s 12:51 and we all fall silent.  Two minutes to remember, to pray if you’re so inclined, to contemplate, and with our silence to show respect for those who lost their lives. 

River of Flowers 2015

Two minutes seems too short, and when the piper begins to play Amazing Grace it takes a while before anyone moves.  Slowly, in ones and twos, we move to the river, still silent, and drop our flowers in, watching them drift downstream towards the city.

River of Flowers 2015

As always, I’m surprised at the depth of emotion I feel in that moment.  There’s something very powerful, yet comforting, about coming together in this way to remember and to acknowledge our shared grief for all we’ve lost: loved ones, homes, livelihoods, health, or just the familiar places and routines of a city we loved.

River of Flowers 2015

And as I think about that shared remembrance, I feel proud to be part of the CEISMIC team.  Our city is changing rapidly as the rebuild continues, but it is important to help ensure that Christchurch as it was is never forgotten, that future generations will know what happened here, and that the rest of New Zealand will understand our loss. And perhaps other communities will learn from our experiences and be better prepared for their own disasters.

River of Flowers 2015

Visit our Contribute page to share your own reflections on the anniversary: How did you spend the day? How do you feel about this sort of ‘shared remembrance’?

 

Creative Commons License
Photographs by Jennifer Middendorf, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.