Unfortunate New Zealand Connection

I submitted my last post – describing how much I enjoyed my New Year in New Zealand – the night before New Zealand experienced its “darkest day.” On Tuesday Feb 22 at around lunchtime, a 6.3 magnatude earthquake hit the Christchurch city center during one of its busiest times, killing hundreds of people and nearly destroying the city.

My heart goes out to New Zeland and the people of Christchurch. I’ve been to New Zealand three times now, and it is one of my favorite places in the world. I plan on going back to visit many times in the future. Hopefully I can soon make my first trip to Christchurch to volunteer in some capacity.

I realize Australia relatively recently has had several natural disasters that have claimed many lives and destroyed homes and land (such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the recent Queensland floods). My heart goes out to the people of my nearly-adopted land as well.

But New Zealand somehow reminds me of home far away (in West Virginia). It has something to do with the mountains, the air, the wildlife and the simplicity of living in New Zealand that makes it really special to me.

One only has to look at two recent mining disasters that may signify a special cosmic relationship between New Zealand and West Virginia.

On April 5, 2010 an explosion rocked the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. It was such a monumental disaster that President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the 29 miners killed.

Just more than seven months later, on November 19, 2010, an eerily similar explosion tore through the Pike River Mine on the South Island of New Zealand. The number of casualties in this accident?

Also 29.

Now I’m no numerologist, but could this be more than a coincidence? Who knows.

All I know is that these disasters will always be a part of life. Hell, developing and third world countries experience disasters many times the size of the ones described above.

I’m not happy about having to write about such incidents, but I think they can somehow help us recognize the fleeting nature of life and the importance of fervently embracing the people and places we love every day.

Who knows when we might no longer have the chance.

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