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Through the ashes

Photo Credit: Neil Williams

Through the ashes

Editor-in-chief Michael McHugh travels to visit MiNDFOOD readers Diane de Haan and Carol Reese, and discovers real hope and restoring ‘balance’ in action.

Through the ashes

I often receive emails from readers sharing their stories, or giving me feedback about a feature we ran in the magazine and how it affected their lives. The email from Diane de Haan about her sister Carol and family showed real love and support, so I flew to Christchurch to hear first-hand of Carol’s heartbreak in losing the family home and the impact MiNDFOOD had after the unexpected tragedy. 

Quality magazine survives fire

“As I was clearing my desktop I came across these images I saved. Sadly, my sister and her family lost their home and all their possessions in the Canterbury Port Hills fire in February [2017]. Nothing was salvageable and my sister was at work so didn’t manage to retrieve any of the irreplaceable family treasures. Truly heartbreaking. It was so bizarre as from the rubble of the fire there were pages of MiNDFOOD that hadn’t burnt. She loves your magazine and the little messages we read on these pages actually gave her some comfort and hope.”

Kind regards

Diane de Haan

The day I flew to Christchurch and drove to the Port Hills to meet Diane and her sister Carol was exactly one year after the horrific house fire in which Carol, her husband Ken, son Henry and daughter Katie, lost everything. Standing on the concrete slab where the house once was, looking out across to Christchurch in the distance, you can only imagine the ferocity of the fire coming up through the valley.

“We thought the fire was finished but the wind changed and the rest is history. Thirty years gone, just like that,” says Carol. “There are so many emotions; you are grateful everyone is safe, and you have your health, but there are things that can’t be replaced, the memories, things collected on holidays, little gifts – just lots of things you acquire over your lifetime.”

The Friday after the fire Henry and Katie stood on the deck with all the destruction behind them and said: “It still feels like home, Mum” which was reassuring for Carol to hear.

Carol’s collection of MiNDFOOD magazines had been upstairs in a rattan basket in her bedroom. Later, looking through the rubble, there were pages that had not burnt. One had the MiNDFOOD logo, my name and email address, and the others messages that gave Carol some strength. On one it said “Without the Fire”, another “I have had good days and bad days”, and another “Restore the Balance of Body & Mind”.

As Carol says, “It’s hard to believe these pages survived the fire, as no other books or photo albums did, but what was meaningful to me were the words. They really stuck in my mind, mainly the word ‘balance’ as this year I’m trying to make sure I have a bit more balance in my life.”

As both sisters finish each other’s sentences their support for each other is obvious, having been through earthquakes, family illnesses and now this. “We are there for each other,” says Diane.

The Reese family hope to build on the existing site this year. “I don’t think we realise how much of our emotions and feelings are built into memories, particularly associated with a dwelling,” says Carol.

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