Awakenings

Glimpses of the Divine in the Mundane

A poem I wrote the other night while grieving the loss of my hometown of Paradise:

I’m sorry – Please excuse the smoke.
It’s just the dreams and hopes of 27 thousand yesterdays.
It’s just the minuscule evidence of
That one baby picture,
That painting of the sea captain by my brother,
And those family portraits of the past 40 years.
It’s just the piano from my grandmother who passed away years ago that my brother just brought back from Iowa.

Excuse the hazardous air quality.
It’s just the thousands of saved kid’s drawings and crafts, books, children’s toys from years gone by that had been unpacked for grandchildren, wedding certificates, diaries, the favorite pillows, that favorite teddy bear from baby years, the 1960s records and the VHS tapes of birthday parties and graduations.

It’s just the houses of my childhood friends where we would play in the late summer evenings and spend nights dreaming of what our grownup years would bring. Not knowing that our futures would all hold this moment in time as our collective yesterdays ascend to the sky.

Please excuse the falling ash.
It’s just the church where I grew up attending with all the children’s songs, VBS programs and the baptismal where I chose to dedicate my life to God. It’s just the aisle where I stood and looked at the man on the day that I said “I Do”.

The falling ash – It’s just Paradise.
A little non-destination town that’s not on the way to anything important. It’s just that end-of-the-road town where people settle and know each other and roots run deep. It’s just a place where the biggest news was that Taco Bell came to town 20 years ago – until Starbucks finally made it 4 months ago.

Paradise – it’s just the place where everyone is your neighbor, as backyards are shared and simple icons are known and loved. Icons that are now ashes falling around you (sorry about that).
Icons like Fosters Freeze.
Gold Nugget Days.
Honey Run Road Covered Bridge.
That one antique store, just to name a few.
Icons like Kalico Kitchen where my dad and I had breakfast on the day of my wedding, just the two of us.
Icons like Darlene’s Frozen Yogurt and Round Table Pizza where many birthday parties growing up took place, not to mention the take home pizzas to mom and dad on weekends we would visit.
Personal icons like the Lucas’s house where many days and nights were spent as we grew up from toddlers, to grade school, to junior high, taking care of animals, watching movies, going trick-r-treating, and discovering our first crushes together.
Icons like the Muth house, where we made brownies and talked about boys and got ready for banquets and wrote songs, and led out in different high school student leadership opportunities.
Icons like the youth room at the church where we discovered so many amazing things together and planned mission trips and prayer conferences and learned what it meant to be used by God right here and right now.
Icons like Rankin Way house where we would watch different phases of our family’s life every year as we gathered for potlucks, game nights or just hear some good music.
Or Country Club where huge gatherings would take place like the 4th of July party for the neighborhood, or just coming together for brunch, or talking about religion and politics.
Or Peterson’s house where we would eat the most delicious Swedish treats and have a visit from Santa.
Or all the houses around town that we lived in since age 2, (that are now all gone) and finally settling on what would become home: Boquest Blvd. Boquest, where breakfast was late, like nights, and eras of my life passed within those 4 walls – from preteen, to high school, and as the walls of my room changed their decor as they held my changing eras like a quiet, constant friend. The early mornings getting ready for school, the late nights studying or dreaming of tomorrows that are now todays. The Christmas eves and mornings where my brother would wake me up to go open our stockings. The night I spent in that room with my sister before the day of my wedding, our conversations waning into the early morning. The years and eras fleeting now in hindsight, as most recently these four walls had been a refuge for my aging parents. And not knowing that 1 month ago would be my final farewell to my constant silent friend – my room – where I spent a few nights with my infant son as we cherished time with family.
Icons like Billie Park where I would go on hikes with my friends as a preteen and teen, and then later take my hubby as we dreamt of the future, and then most recently would take my own 2 children to play and romp and just be…in Paradise.

… And not to mention all the lives that were lost: mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, beloved pets …

But please, once again, excuse our smoke.
It’s just what’s left of what was one of the most unique little settlements in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains: what was Paradise.💔

Copyright 2018 Krystalynn Martin, All Rights Reserved

134 thoughts on “Please Excuse the Smoke

  1. Teri Hull says:

    Beautiful ❤️ My childhood home was on Boquest, too. I’m pretty sure it’s gone…and I’m so sorry for your loss.

    1. Kris says:

      My Grandparents home was 505 Boquest. We spent many happy summers there up until my grandmother had to move. My parents sold the house somewhere around 1985. Many happy memories there. There was no house to the right and my sisters and I spent hours tunneling into BlackBerry bushes to create forts. We roamed up and down Beachwood without a care. So incredibly sad for this huge loss.

      1. Awakenings says:

        Are you serious?!?!! 505 Boquest was our address!!! 😮😮 wow what a small world. What a serendipity to read this comment! Your house, our house, truly was home! 💔💔 my parents bought the house around 1993 I think?

    2. Awakenings says:

      Teri what was your address?

  2. Katie Aunan says:

    Your poem made me cry-your pain, sorrow, and hearbreak still so raw. I will continue to keep you and all of our neighbors to the north in my prayers. I have many fond memories of Paradise from my years in Chico going to school many decades ago. It was truly a special place.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  3. Sherry Balow says:

    The smoke will dissipate…your memories will serve you well.

  4. Thanks for your poem! We are suffering from the smoke here in the Bay Area. I cannot imagine what it must be like there in Paradise.

    1. Awakenings says:

      It’s getting better day by day – thank you for holding us even over there in the Bay 💕

  5. Helene E. Goble says:

    My heart aches for your horrific loss. Your poem was hauntingly beautiful. I could hardly read it because of the tears. Please know that the surrounding areas care and want you to heal.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💔

  6. Donna Treadway says:

    Beautiful memories, so glad you wrote them down to keep.
    With the help of God,
    expressing yourself and the passing of time heals, but the memories will always bring a tear because of the love you have of those memories. Never forget. They always will bring warm memories. Hugs and ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Awakenings says:

      Beautiful- thank you 💕

  7. Joan Olson (sounds like Joann) says:

    I’m in Spokane, WA, continuing to pray for your broken hearts and your emptiness because of incalculable losses. Your poem is a privilege to read with your lovely picturesque writing in the darkest of conditions. You are gifted. Thank you for sharing your gift with your readers. You do have Paradise in your heart, knowing God, and He is helping your hurt, one day at a time, I’m sure. That is what God does. I will continue praying for you and the many whose lives are uprooted and grieving. I wish I could be some arms to hug you but I’m doing that in my thoughts and tears. Keep writing your pain, you touch our hearts so deeply in this poem. Bless you.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much and thank you for your prayers 💕

  8. mary echo says:

    Such a sad reminder of all that went away with the smoke. So many pray for your pain at the lost of so much. Beautiful tribute to your home. Paradise is in our prayers.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you for your prayers 💕

  9. Stacy says:

    Beautiful tribute to a lifetime spent in Paradise! That satan driven fire can’t have your memories! My prayers to you all!! RIP all who were lost!

  10. Carolyn says:

    Heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m sorry for everyone’s losses and suffering. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories.

  11. Jennifer Marshall says:

    My heart is with you. I never imagined that a fire worse than our wine country firestorm would hit Calif let alone 13 months later. Your poem hits me well. I wish I knew your name to give you credit as I want to share it with groups in Sonoma County. I looked for your name on this site but never found it. Please know it does get better…. at this point that is difficult to see but it does ❤

    1. Awakenings says:

      We also lived in Santa Rosa last year during the Tubbs Fire. And my name is Krystalynn Martin – thank you for asking as my words are all I’ve got left of my history 💕

      1. Rich Mueller says:

        You have a gift to express all of Paradise’s emotions. God, where do we go from here??

      2. Linda Hensley says:

        Krystalynn, your words made me fill your pain. You will heal

      3. SabR says:

        ♥️ Our hearts go out to you and all affected. Thank you for sharing your cherished memories. 🙏🏼 May you continue to be strong and know there are so many doing our best to help. Keep spreading the joy of the past and may you all find Paradise again… 🤗

      4. Awakenings says:

        Thank you so much 💕

  12. Sarah S. says:

    Beautiful and heartfelt poetry, graphic, striking, but so real. My prayers are with you and your family and all that you lost I know can’t be replaced. I’m so sorry, and I hope that in the next few hours, days, weeks, months and years, that u are able to rebuild your life, as for all the others who lost everything. I’m grateful that you are still alive, and for all the other survivors. And may all those who have fallen, that they may RIP.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much and thank you for the prayers for all

  13. Alex says:

    No words can ever “fix” or bring back what was lost.. but your faith in God can keep you close to the only one who can ease your pain and bring you through this. The ashes are a physical reminder of the pain and destruction- our hearts and prayers are with you. – today , smoldering pain- in the days, weeks, months to come- I pray for your strength and undying faith.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  14. Sheri Ferber says:

    My heart is with you. Mother is a graduate of Paradise HI. 1964 I was raised in Oroville and Chico so of course Paradise completed the triangle. Your words have touched me deeply. A beautiful gift to be able to take pen to paper when the world around us is crumbling. Please Excuse The Smoke. Those words put together will forever remind me of what you have endured. I want you to know the country, the world is weeping with you. Paradise will indeed be reborn. She is strong and Evergreen. There is no doubt. Missing home, wishing I could be there to help. Sending love from Temecula, CA Sheri Clifton Ferber

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much! It’s so good to know that we are not alone in this

  15. Shannon Hastings says:

    My sister lost her home in the Santa Rosa Fires last year. Family in Redding came close to losing homes in Redding fires last summer. Your poes says so well what the loss is for so many. Prayers to you and to all who have had to endure these terrible events.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Oh no! We also lived in Santa Rosa last year during that fire! Where did your sister live?

  16. Jonathan Zumwalt says:

    Beautiful poem Krystalynn, I shed many tears. Growing up in Paradise is a small taste of what heaven is going to be like. It is going to be over a thousand years before it becomes True Paradise again.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Indeed – thank you 💔💕🙏

  17. berniecreelman says:

    For many of us just experiencing the smoke, you have summed up our fears. What would I grab if I had time to grab anything? I’ve thought long and hard. The animals, yes, because they are alive. My daughter’s ashes because i could not leave her behind. The photos that remind me of the life I have lived. I know I cannot take away your pain, but i send you the hope that you will know peace until you can know joy.

  18. Christie Smith Stephens says:

    Thank you! You have my deepest sympathy. Saving the Story of Paradise is Holy Work. I am very sorry for the unspeakable losses, and very grateful for your necessary and beautiful pen. ❤️

    1. Awakenings says:

      This was a beautiful reminder of that “holy work” – thank you

  19. Sandy says:

    Thank you for expressing what so many people are thinking and cannot put into words. My husband and I lived there 30 years and are currently living close to Yosemite. Our family and friends have lost all their material possessions, but are physically safe. We cannot even begin to grasp the loss, but we know that the hearts of the people in Paradise will remain strong…..Thank you again, I know this poem will help many people!!!

    1. Awakenings says:

      Wow – small world. Thank you for sharing that 💕

  20. Kay Anderson says:

    Your ability to articulate what this fire means for those of Paradise is an undeniable gift. Thank you for sharing your heartbreak. I pray you will find strength to carry on and slowly rebuild your Paradise Lost. Hugs and love to you all, Krystalynn.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  21. Janet Jensen says:

    I am writing you though tears because you brought up emotions of 24 years ago. We lost our home in a wild fire in the Sierra Foothill 24 years ago but the emotions are still there, buried deep. You got it just right. Some people will say it is just stuff but it is not. What you lost is memories, emotions, history and maybe someone you loved. I wish you healing. One of the best advise I got from a good friend after our fire was. “Let people help you. It is good for you and them”. Hugs Janet

    1. Awakenings says:

      Oh I’m so sorry for your loss – it’s good to hear from someone who understands 💕

  22. Dear Krystalynn Martin,
    Millions of hearts break with yours. The smoke and ash are nothing we can’t live with temporarily while we send love and reinforcements to you to rebuild your lives in your beloved Paradise.

  23. Beverly Meyer says:

    Tears, prayers, and love sent to Paradise. The smoke is a daily reminder to hold you all in prayer.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you for those prayers 💕🙏

  24. Rani Rani says:

    Sending love and prayers from Santa Rosa. My grandfather’s brother- my Uncle Mel- spent the last years of his life in Paradise and is buried under those ashes…

    1. Awakenings says:

      Oh wow! My hubby and I used to live in Santa Rosa! Love that place

  25. Laurie Parle says:

    God bless you Krystalynn, your precious family, love ones, all in Paradise, and all in the fire areas in California, and in the world. Day after day dwelling indoors due to the unbelievable poor air quality near San Francisco, all around the Bay Area, and Sacramento where my sister lives very close to Paradise. Your poem speaks volumes, touched my heart, and I hope your poem reaches those who need to be uplifted, I think can help them somehow cope. Please know, many of my friends, and many people I’ve seen on Facebook send daily prayers for you and all who have been affected by the fires. God bless you and all in Paradise. 💕🙏💕

  26. Sandy says:

    Knowing that the orange sky is filled with memories and lives of the people of Paradise fills my heart will sorrow. Understanding that the air I breathe today contains an entire town is mind boggling. Your words brought me to tears.

  27. Jo Carp says:

    God bless you and your family and neighbors. My mom had a friend who lived there, her name was Shirley, they worked together at UPS. Thank you for sharing your precious memories. Thank God that you are alive to share them…

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much! 💕

  28. Kris says:

    More thought re 505 Boquest. When my Grandfather passed in 1976 we planted an evergreen. My sister inherited my grandmother’s antique bedroom set. We used to climb the tall pines in the back clear to the top. And now. My sister also lost her home in this fire. So no more of my grandma’s furniture. No more grandpa’s evergreen. No more tall pines. I wonder if the stone steps down to the bottom of the property are still there. My heart is breaking for everyone there.

    1. Awakenings says:

      I still can’t believe we both lived at 505 Boquest! Which evergreen is the one he planted? And the stone stairs I think survived! I’ll let you know!

      1. Kris says:

        The evergreen was to the left of the house about half way between the back of the garage and the pines at the back. The house on the left was not there yet and the tree was planted on the burm the separated the lots. It was planted in memory of my grandpa. It used to make my grandma crazy when we climbed the pines because we’d go clear to the top and come in covered in sap. Feel free to email me. Would love to share other stories. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

      2. Awakenings says:

        Wow! Yes my mother was so excited to hear that you had contacted me! She would love to talk to you! And she wanted me to tell you that your house had been a true home to us all, and they had taken such good care of everything.

      3. Awakenings says:

        What’s your email address? I can send you some more pics to see if you can see the fit tree?

      4. Kris says:

        I showed my mom the picture of your home. She thinks Grandpa’s tree may be the one still standing just past the chimney. It was about 4 feet tall when we planted it and it’s been 42 years. The placement would be about right.

  29. Terri Fisher says:

    Thank you for this.
    Our parents lived in Paradise for 20 years and our children will always cherish their memories of Grandma’s house there.
    Your tribute is beautiful – I was good until I got to the part about Kalico Kitchen and then the tears started…
    Again, thank you, and take care.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you- it’s so good to know that others are crying with us

  30. Virginia Lee says:

    Every time I inhale the smoke from Paradise, I wonder whose life I am breathing. One of the universal laws of physics says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The love you feel for your life in Paradise will never leave you, and hopefully will be recreated in another form. My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine the depth of your loss.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Wow this is beautiful- thank you 💔

    2. Awakenings says:

      This is so beautiful- thank you 💕

  31. Sheila says:

    So many are praying for you all… Some of us know what it is to loose everything…

  32. Susan Rubio says:

    I feel it with the breaths I take, inhaling all of that you have lost, while my heart cries. Love and hugs to you.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Yes – thank you for holding us in your heart and crying with us

  33. Susan says:

    I have no words worthy because I have a home and my treasures, but I know it can be gone in a split second. Lean on God even if you feel a little mad at him right now. He WILL heal you and carry you through these unimaginable hard times. I send my you love sweetheart!

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much! 💕

  34. Ami Icanberry says:

    This is beautiful thank you. I am so sorry for your deep loss and those in your community. Grew up spending summers in beautiful Paradise. We stand with you! Love from San Francisco.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  35. I am glad and grateful to have discovered the source of your poem, which I encountered in a Facebook post with no attribution beyond “written by a friend of a friend”. Your poem touched my wife and me deeply. We lost our home (and all that it contained and embodied and provided) in the Valley Fire three years ago. All week long we’ve been reflecting on the fact that the smoky, murky air we’ve been breathing is filled with the particulate remains of thousands of homes, places of work and worship, trees, pets, livestock, wildlife, and people. Those remains, which you so poignantly and powerfully enumerated, are now a part of us. We are bonded at a cellular level. We are one. We pray with you and for you. You are in our hearts. May God bless you and keep you in these terribly trying times, and may your faith sustain you. Namaste. Karl E. Parker (Please let me know if I can be of any service to you — I’m three years down the road and understand from the inside out what you are going through.)

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕 I’m so honored and humbled

    2. Steve Wylie says:

      Karl, I too was moved by this when I saw it on Facebook. I was so glad when another friend posted the link to the actual blog post so that I could also offer my appreciation and sympathy. You and Linda went through so much after the Valley Fire, and yet you turned it into so much good because of your work in our community. You are such a gift, and know that I appreciate our friendship so very much.

      Krystalynn, your poem was beautiful and moving. I have shared it (with attribution) on another site that I hope will expand the reach of your message. I wish you peace as you deal with the loss of your material possessions and your community. Thank you for your beautiful words. I hope they are seen around the world.

      Blessings,
      Steve Wylie

      1. Awakenings says:

        Thank you so much – it’s so comforting to know we’re not alone 💕

  36. Kay Turner says:

    Your poem about your memories touched my heart. How very sad to lose all your belongings. I can feel the pain in your words. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and friends.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  37. Cindy says:

    I am all the way across the country..on the east coast in North Carolina. Every day I wake, there is a pit in my stomach for all the folks lost or left suffering due to these wildfires. Bless you Krystalynn, for putting into perspective how we should really be thankful for what we have. I know I am, and continue to pray for everyone out there, as I stand here helplessly wishing there were something I could do. I also pray for all of Gods critters that have also been lost, or left suffering with injury, and will continue to suffer, as their homes and food have also been wiped out through this destruction. I pray for you..and everyone.. the strength to get through this ordeal, the ability to find peace in your future, and love and comfort amongst each other.

    1. Awakenings says:

      This is so beautiful- thank you 💕

  38. Katherine says:

    My heart is breaking for you, crying so hard right now. Your poem is beautiful. My heart aches for you. May peace and comfort find you. ❤

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you 💕 it’s good to know we’re not alone in our tears

      1. Susan Gleason says:

        You are not alone. We feel your pain and sense of loss and will be here for all of you.

      2. Awakenings says:

        Thank you so much 💕

  39. Tamara Trussell says:

    Yours are inspired words that sound like they rolled off the tip of your tongue. The smoke in the Bay Area is the only thing that makes so terribly REAL your monumental losses, Paradise’s tragic losses. I tear up every time I hear a story of loss of life — and then hear that people are sleeping in Walmart’s parking lot. I send money through gofundme links that are shared from family members and friends and feel impotent about what else I can do. Yours is a very personal tragedy — but really it is also a community and very public state tragedy. I am mourning with you and praying for you — please let us know what we can do to help Paradise become Paradise again.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  40. Laura T says:

    I’m so very sorry for the loss your beautiful words capture. I too lost my home in the Tubbs Fire October 2017. Your poem touched me immensely. May you find the strength to conquer the journey ahead.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you! And so sorry for your loss 💔

  41. Brandy Nicole says:

    Beautiful! My heart is broken for our little mountain community 😦
    #prayforparadise

  42. Annette Lee says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. We lost our parents’ home, the home we grew up in, to the Valley Fire. Please know there are so many of us here in Lake County who are with you and with all those who are suffering.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  43. George Miner says:

    Thank you for giving focus to my prayers as I have a minor inconvenience of hazy days, soon to become clear. The pervasive sigh that keeps coming has now found a place to reside. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  44. Victoria Ramos says:

    Thank you for reminding us what is really ‘real’ about this fire and the loss of Paradise. So many people from all over the world are thinking about Paradise and sending love. I was just in Maui and every single person I spoke with, no matter where they were from, when they found out we were from California said that they were praying for those in Paradise. They are with you all.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Wow! Amazing! Thank you for sharing 💔

  45. Theresa Keegan says:

    Krystalynn,
    First off we are so sorry about this tragedy and, from Southern California, we are with you in spirit.
    Your writing about Paradise is amazing. Our writing group, Third Street Writers, in Laguna Beach is putting together an anthology from writing throughout the country entitled “Paradise.”
    Obviously, this word now has so many meanings since the tragic fire. We would be honored if you would allow us to include your piece – we do offer a small payment. Can you please PM me and I can discuss some logistics with you? Thank you and again, this tragedy has touched all of us. You are not alone. Theresa

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much – I’ll try to find you on FB 💕

    2. Awakenings says:

      I’m seeing many Theresa Keegan’s – not sure which one is yours. Maybe you can pm me?

  46. Richard Milton Grahn says:

    Reblogged this on Grahn Song and commented:
    As a former resident of Butte County, California and frequent visitor to Paradise, I am heartbroken. This poem is heartbreaking from the heart. Something beautiful from tragedy. Please read this poem, it takes me back but will be hard for anyone to read without feeling the loss.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much for sharing and for the reminder that we are not alone 💔

  47. Linda Harlin says:

    Beautifully done!!! A tribute to you, your family, your town and your memories….those you will have forever. My prayers and tears for you and Paradise, may you rise from the ashes and move forward with creating new memories.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you for sharing my poem 💕

  48. Lois says:

    Your poem made me cry.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you for crying with us 💕

  49. Marilyn Marco says:

    Thank you for your beautiful poem Krystalynn! I grew up in Paradise from age 5-18, have been living in the Bay Area since then, but always had a connection to my beautiful hometown, especially through childhood friends who escaped the fire. I’ve been in Mexico on vacation while this horrific tragedy has unfolded, but have been deeply impacted. Your poem has so poignantly captured the heart of Paradise and its beauty. I hold you, your family, and all of Paradise in my prayers and healing energy that goes out to all! You are not alone, we are a collective community and we will rise from the ashes together! Marilyn Geist Marco

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so very much 💕🙏

  50. John Christianson says:

    Back before Interstate 5 was completed used to be able to run the corridor of 99 and 70, we used to drive up sorry cabin in Mount Lassen. I remember pulling over at various fruit stands and burger joints along the in Paradise and in the Buttes. my dad drove it was a long trip out for 5 hours at least we were kids riding in the back of a Chevy pickup truck or our Ford station wagon. I remember we make side tips to Paradise cuz my dad had friends there. Fast forward many years later I left the military service and I was driving truck for an auto parts wholesaler and also for produce company I drove my route around 70,99 and interstate 5 I’ll always remember swing to Paradise stopping having burgers and sandwiches I don’t even remember all the shops and stores I just remember the people friendly the jokes. The garages and auto parts store. The machine shops the produce market the little grocery stores. I remember coming back up with my dad and hunting in the area. But always remember the small-town feel. The wave as you can down the road as you pass people going the other direction. My heart is broken because I know some of them didn’t make it out I don’t remember their names it’s been so long. But I remember their faces. And I’m dreading the day that’s coming when I know they’ll be put up on the media and we’ll see them. I pray this paradise Will Rise From the Ashes Like a Phoenix. They’ll be Paradise again but it won’t be the same. Oh some folks will say it’ll be better I’m sure it will for them. But for a lot of us that grew up with Paradise that ran with friends from Paradise nd the surrounding community that lived back in the day. Nothing will ever be the same in Paradise. God bless the survivors, God bless those that are gone, May he hold them in his arms forever. God bless Paradise🕊

    1. Awakenings says:

      This is beautifully said – thank you so much for grieving with us 💕

  51. Such terrible devastation. Your words brought it home for me and everyone not directly affected by this hellish fire. My heart breaks for you. God bless you.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much for sharing my poem – it’s so humbling and comforting to know it has touched so many 💕

      1. Marion Williams says:

        Your comments are very touching. You are a gifted writer. I’m wondering if you lived in the Country Club area as you mentioned the July 4th gatherings, which were so enjoyable. Perhaps your name was different at that time.

      2. Awakenings says:

        Yes, my maiden name is Westbrook 💕

  52. Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it was to put pen to paper, anymore than I can begin to imagine the pain you & everyone affected are feeling. I do know that Paradise will rebuild & will be stronger even if it doesn’t feel like it now, or in the coming days, weeks & months. Please know that we here in Eureka & the whole of Humboldt CO. are holding you all in our thoughts & prayers. God Bless you & the other survivors. May God hold those who didn’t make it out in His embrace.

    1. Awakenings says:

      Thank you so much 💕

  53. Karen Knighton says:

    I am truly sorry for your loss.
    My sister has already contacted you about how our grandparents lived in your home long ago. My mom and her sister grew up in Paradise and this is difficult for us all.
    This is been devastating to us knowing that all we have are memories and photographs of our grandparents home on Boquest. I guess I thought that their home would be there forever.
    We spent many happy summers visiting them.
    We used to climb the trees down on the bottom, we called them monkey trees because we were little monkeys climbing them! We climbed the pines on the side of the lawn. My grandmother love to garden and we weeded every inch of all of the terraces.
    She never used the fireplace except to hold all of her houseplants. She had a green thumb!
    At a later point I’ll go through my photographs of how the home used to look before your family purchased it.
    We used to sit in the living room and watch the deer come up to the sliding glass door and one time, a family of little skunks.
    We would go across the street and pick blackberries and wander all over the neighborhood. I had a summer friend down the street.
    One year my younger sisters pulled up the brick that we used to step up onto the upper terrace with and it turned out there was a mud hornet nest underneath it and they got stung several times. Yeah great memories!
    I got in trouble one summer because I took the fence apart. The Abe Lincoln fence I thought looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle and so I removed several poles and then I couldn’t get it back together again. I don’t think mom and dad could ever get it quite right either. LOL
    My grandmother loved to walk and I remember taking walks with her around the block and sometimes clear down to the library.
    Your loss is most definitely our loss. Praying for your family and ours. My sister lost her home and so did my cousins and some other friends from our hometown.
    I’m on Facebook, Please find me. I will find some photographs and get them posted on Facebook between Thanksgiving and Christmas I hope!

    1. Awakenings says:

      Tho is so amazing that we lived in the same house! Such a serendipity and comforting to know we are crying over the same place that held so many great memories 💕 I’ll try to find you on FB – what’s your profile name?

      1. Karen Knighton says:

        Karen Harder Knighton

      2. Awakenings says:

        Great! I sent you a private message on FB 😊 After you respond I can send you pics of what’s left of the house

    2. Awakenings says:

      Just looked for you on FB but can’t find you – maybe add me on FB? My name is Krystalynn Martin

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