Not your typical Friday night

There is so much we have to share with everyone but haven’t got around to it.  Anthony has had a half-written blog post for the last month or so, he started a new permanent job (which he loves), we have just started our first Autumn, and much more.  I know we continually have excuses as to why we don’t have more blog posts or even pics and FB updates.  Today I wanted to be sure to set aside some time to tell you about our Friday night.  It was one that will not be forgotten.

I mentioned that Anthony started a new job.  He started this past Monday.  One of his co-workers was leaving the company to explore the North Island of New Zealand for an indefinite amount of time.  If she loves it, she will stay there.  If not, she will move on to another country.  While that sounds a bit crazy by American standards, that is pretty much the norm here.  We have met so many awesome people but they move on.  We have been trying to get used to the transient lifestyle.

Anthony and I were to go to a local bar to meet his coworker for going-away drinks.  We were running a bit behind because of me since I ran errands after work and had to change after work to go out.  In general I didn’t have a very good week so I wasn’t moving very quickly.  We finally made it out the door a little before 7:00 pm and started to walk our usual path towards CBD.  As we previously mentioned CBD is considered an area within 4 avenues, one of them being Morehouse.  It can be a busy street with lots of traffic during rush hour.  It has a lot of car dealerships (similar to Liberty Avenue) and different stores.  While we were walking we suddenly heard screams come from across the road at a used car dealership.  There were 2 females that were physically throwing around their bodies, falling to the ground, and letting out loud shrills.  At first it was difficult to know if they were really excited about something (like buying a brand new car), if they were drunk, or if they were in danger.  Anthony and I stopped across this 4 lane highway and tried to determine if we needed to stop or not.

At this point, there were a lot of things going through both of our minds.  They say that spousal and child abuse are common in New Zealand among the native Maori population.  While these 2 women didn’t appear to be Maori it was still something  that we thought was a possibility.  We thought there may be someone hurt in the building, someone drunk, and many other things.  As we watched, they would run back inside the dealership and run back outside in hysterics.  They both then were on their phones so it seemed as though they were calling 111 (NZ 911).  At this point, Anthony knew he wouldn’t be able to keep walking and ignore the situation.  He told me to stay on the far side of the road while he went over to check things out.

I watched him make his way across and stop and talk to the women.  He then went into the doorway of the dealership, looked to the right, and came back out.  By this time, someone in a truck had also pulled over to see if they could help.  A young girl, probably in her late 20’s, got out of the truck.  Anthony had told her not to go into the building and to stay back.  He walked to tell the driver of the truck what he knew.

At this point, I made my way across the highway and stopped to see what Anthony was telling the people in the vehicle.  I knew something wasn’t right but it seemed that it was safe enough for me to be over there.  When I got over there I heard Anthony saying there was nothing that could be done at this point.  He said emergency services was coming (and we could hear the sirens) and there was no sign of life.  He then told me that the 2 women were mother and daughter and they just found their husband/father who hung himself.  Anthony had went in and saw that this was true.

The girl in the truck was pretty distraught at this time.  She kept repeating  we can’t leave him hanging.  We need to get him down.  If we get him down there might be a chance.  Anthony explained that it had appeared to have been awhile since the act occurred and that it was best to wait for emergency services since we knew they were close as the sirens were getting louder.  During this time the mother kept walking around the parking lot flailing her arms, crying, and was in pure shock and disbelief.  To say that we felt helpless is an understatement.  There was nothing we could do to help her.  Both her and her daughter’s life came crashing down and it will never be the same.  There will probably never be a day that they don’t think about this Friday evening.

The first emergency responder showed up in an ambulance.  He was by himself and Anthony asked if he needed a hand while he was getting equipment out of the trunk.  He asked who was inside and Anthony said the mother and daughter.   The emergency responder then signaled that Anthony should come in with him.

When they got inside they found that the man was no longer hanging.  The daughter had found a hacksaw and had gotten him down and was performing chest compressions.  The emergency responder asked her to step back and told Anthony to take over the compressions while he was working to get the equipment out.  A police car and another ambulance arrived quickly after Anthony and the first emergency responder went inside.  They took over and as Anthony was exiting the building he saw the first emergency responder shake his head no.  An emergency responder from the 2nd ambulance then made his way out to talk to the women.  I watched from the sidewalk as Anthony started to walk back towards me and also watched the man share the news with the mother and daughter.  While we knew that moment was inevitable it doesn’t make it any easier to see the official notification to the family of their husband’s/father’s passing.

Anthony told me that we should start walking.  After a few minutes of discussing the situation and how he felt, he indicated that he still wanted to go out for the night.  After what he just went through and what he saw, I was there to support him and help in whatever he indicated he needed.  He didn’t want to go home and reflect on the situation all night so we continued to make our way towards the bar.  As we were walking the ambulance pulled up beside us and a man jumped out to talk to with us, mostly Anthony.  He introduced himself, shook Anthony’s hand, and told him how courageous he was.  He then asked how long ago Anthony was trained in CPR.  Anthony explained he wasn’t but he knew the first emergency responder was by himself and would need help.  We learned the emergency responder that stopped was from San Diego and he had been in NZ for almost 20 years.  He even had a bit of a Kiwi accent but joked that Kiwis would never admit it.  He advised that Anthony’s adrenalin had spiked and mentioned tea with sugar could help regulate it.  He also mentioned there are support groups available if Anthony needed to talk with anyone.  Anthony’s response was that he was pretty even-keeled so he felt he was going to be okay.  I thanked Kerry and informed him that we would look into the groups if we felt anything changed.

We made our way to the bar where I had immediately instructed Anthony to go wash his hands and arms.  (I can be a bit of a germaphobe but have gotten much better with germs since in NZ.  This was a circumstance where I didn’t think I was being crazy or over the top by making him wash his hands and arms.)  We debated about whether we wanted to share the story with a bunch of people we barely knew but felt we had to.  We didn’t want to be Debby-downers but we were a bit shook up and they may have been able to sense something was up.  Plus it helped explain why we were even later than we anticipated.

We were quite responsible and didn’t drink much.  We stayed out to enjoy everyone’s company.  We discussed what happened with the group but everyone was able to move past it quickly and have a fun night.

So it may seem strange we are sharing this story.  We don’t want people to correlate suicide and New Zealand.  We haven’t googled statistics nor do we care to.  We feel what we encountered can happen anywhere in the world.  People go through things and have tough times everywhere.  New Zealand, the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and the list goes on.  We expected to have all kinds of new experiences in New Zealand, but we never thought we would encounter this situation and I’m sure the mother and daughter also felt the same way.

We are using this as a reminder that everyone is going through something.  It sounds cliché but is true.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Anthony told me yesterday that we need to treat the big problems as medium sized one, treat the medium ones as small, and the small ones can be small as long we don’t spend too much time worrying about them.  Sounds pretty simple but sometimes it’s easier said than done.

While I always knew what kind of guy Anthony was, seeing what he did and how he reacted on Friday just reaffirms everything I’ve already known.  We like to think we know how we would react in certain situations but you never truly know until you are tested.

So if you took the time to read this entire post, do me a favor and drop Anthony a line.  It’s always good to hear from friends, family, old co-workers, etc.  Being halfway around the world sometimes people wait for us to reach out.  There’s only 1 of each of us while there are many of you.  We love every time we get a call, text, card in the mail, or anything in between.

Take a moment to hug those close to you and maybe hug them a bit tighter.  Play with your pets, check on your neighbor, be a bit nicer to strangers.  No good gesture is too small.

Sending love and hugs from New Zealand.  XOXO.

4 thoughts to “Not your typical Friday night”

  1. Wow! Kristy what a beautifully written post about something that was obviously so traumatic. I always knew Anthony was a good man – he is definitely one in a million! Because I know him – when I read the first couple of paragraphs, I knew he would go to assist…it’s just the type of man he is and he shows genuine compassion for others. I loved that the medic came to you and offered support – that speaks volumes of his character as well. Being far from home when something like this happens I’m sure is tough, but you both are strong, resilient and good hearted – enjoy all your moments! Prayers for both of you!

    1. Hi Lori – So sorry for the delay. We don’t get notified of these comments unless we log on and look for them. Thank you for the kind words, I definitely agree he’s one in a million!

  2. Just found your blog (linked from the ExpatsBlog in Christchurch page). This was a Friday night to remember indeed! I’m in Sourthen California and enjoying reading your accounts of expat life in NZ. My wife and I spent 10 days in NZ (mostly South Island) a couple of years ago and are considering a move, so your experiences are very relevant!

    I will keep reading. Best of luck to you both. And, Anthony, helluva job you did backnon this Friday night!

    1. Hi Ryan – I’m glad you were able to find the blog. Please feel free to reach out if you’d like us to provide additional information which could help with your decision to move. There is so much more we can share than what I’ve posted about.

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