InSanity~Normalize, Don't Stigmatize Mentall Illness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Paradise Lost, Beginning to Say "Goodbye"

How can we start to say "goodbye"
It's too godawful to believe
One merciless inferno
ceded far too much to grieve

When can we start to say "goodbye"
Each day's haze, too thick to clear
Death threats invade the nightly sleep
We're paralyzed by fear

Where do we start to say "goodbye"
Sans your crisp, brisk pine air 
One more slice of Black Bear pie
A final ounce of your down-home care

To whom do we start to say "goodbye"
Endearing senior pairings 
married fifty years or more
like the ones that owned and nurtured my favorite antique store (Treasures of Paradise)
Or the banjo picking cow folk, 
the flag-flailing Trumpeteers
The man who saved his neighbors' homes, asking only for some beers

To the men resembling Santa
if Santa dropped one hundred pounds
The teens labeled "disabled"
who beat me in every Skip-Bo round
But if we start with children 
How can we best explain
Their rooms and schools, all burnt to ash
Not one swing-set remains
It lasted from 11/8 to 11/25/18.
It incinerated an area the size of Chicago.
153,335 acres burned
13,972 single-family homes
18,793 structures  
85 identified deaths
296+ unaccounted for; may likely never be identified
52,000 people displaced 
over 90% of Paradise is no longer
Honey Run Covered Bridge - before and after 11/8/18. Built in 1886 on the original road that connected Chico and Paradise, it was the last bridge of its kinds in the US. Plans are underway to recreate it, as a memorial to those who perished.

first photo: me in front of Coco Amatrice, 2011

This one "goodbye"
spans miles beyond
the passing of a friend

                          How can we start to say "goodbye"
                             when "goodbye" has no end?


  1. Sure not easy for anyone involved. Will always be with them. Just an awful event all around.

  2. I was holding it together until I got to the last line. That made me tear up. I have so many friends and family in California who, while they got lucky and didn't have their homes burned, lost businesses and are still dealing with things like air quality and whatever lung conditions will continue to return for years to come. This was a beautiful poem and thank you for sharing it.

    1. Oh, PVP, I didn't know you're so connected with this area. I'm very sorry. Yes, you understand the fall-out is insurmountable.

      Thank you, and you're welcome.

  3. It's still just heart wrenching and almost impossible to wrap your brain around. Can you imagine being the 10%? You'd feel blessed and riddled with guilt at the same time.

    1. True. Actually, those whose homes or offices are still intact are worse off. No or limited insurance payouts - with lots more hoops to jump through; no electricity or the basics to a "livable" condition; no neighbors; etc. It'd be so hard to return. Few are allowed to, but they need special permission and official escorts (police or the like).

  4. heartbreaking poem. The only way to see goodbye is to remember. It's just all tough to fathom. Thanks for this post

  5. Beautiful tribute... and a question with no satisfying answer.

  6. Replies
    1. There are few intact hearts anywhere around here, JoJo.

  7. What a terrible conflagration and a horrible death toll. It's a tragic way to end 2018.

  8. It's so hard, Robyn, but your words are sweet and enduring.

  9. Incredible poem, accompanied by some horrible statistics. Too bad your poem was inspired by real-life events. Fiction is so much easier to deal with.

    1. I wish it was fiction.
      And now we're hit by flooding plus flash flood and mudslide risks. Sigh.

      Thank you, Silver. I appreciate your sentiment.

  10. Beautiful words for such a horrific tragedy.

  11. This poem is beautiful but depicts something so very sad. At this time, one sees how great people are. There are others who are horrible but they are few and far between. Now is the time to rise from the ashes like that covered bridge. I hope the people who have lost loved ones will find some solace especially for those who know their loved one passed but can not be found. I also feel a huge sense of loss for the wildlife and pets who never made it

    1. The loss doesn't stop - it's monstrous.

      Thank you, Birgit.
      Love and safety to you.

  12. My heart still hurts for all those affected. The devastation is just too vast and deep. I do pray that they can rebuild and find some peace. Such a beautiful poem Robyn.

    1. I'm not hopeful for a rebuild any time soon, realistically. But it would be wonderful to see a semblance of the Paradise we all loved at some point again.

      Thank you, Holli.

  13. The devastation is horrifying. I'm so sorry for all who were affected by this. :(

  14. Heartfelt, memorable tribute --gentle, like you. It's hard to think that community which, in its simplicity and serenity served to restore the strength of several friends over the decades, Paradise, became an inferno. Thank you for this.

    1. Yes, it's the antithesis of the Paradise we, and our loved ones, knew. It gave me a new chapter (a whole book, actually), too.

      Strength and care back to you, Geo.
      Thank you.

  15. Such a truly sad situation with so many in despair. The stories of those that helped must be of some comfort to those with so little. Never an easy thing, but probably made even harder this time of the year when people want to ready their homes for the holidays. Truly heartbreaking and hard to imagine.

    1. Yeah, the heart breaking aspect about one of my client's/families is that they'd begun excitedly collecting Xmas presents (though they have nothing). Those gifts, now ash too. In time, I'm hopeful they'll be in a better place. Now, though, too sad.

      Thank you, Sandy.

  16. So overwhelming and incredibly sad. The numbers are unimaginable to me, and the tragedy they represent even more unfathomable.

    1. It's too much for the brain, much less the heart.

      Thank you, Connie.

  17. Horrible, horrible tragedy, Robyn. I can't even begin to express my heartfelt feelings of grief!

  18. Oh Robyn! This was tragically beautiful words. I hope you have returned to some sense of normalcy and that all of those affected by this horrific event are healing. Love and light to you!