Paradise no longer

“I can’t bear it. But I do. And I think wildly about the headlines to come. Paradise Lost. Paradise is burning.”

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty

I can’t bear to look at it, but I look anyway. I can’t bear to feel it, but I feel it anyway. I can’t bear the thick grey smoke, the ashes of someone’s life, someone’s home, someone’s bold future. I can’t bear to inhale. I can’t bear the grit in my eyes, on my windshield, in my hair, nose, on my skin. I can’t bear it. But I do. And I think wildly about the headlines to come. Paradise Lost. Paradise is burning. And I think about the fires in the Southland. Evacuating Malibu. Malibu is another kind of paradise–the heart and soul of what California looks like to the rest of the world. Malibu.

Hell, even Barbie had a special edition. Malibu Barbie, Malibu Ken. A big pink house and a big pink car. A poodle. Now Mattel needs to adjust the world’s expectations. Firefighter Barbie, Firefighter Ken. A Barbie-size Humvee, grey and mottled, half burnt by flames. There can be–instead of a poodle–a search and rescue dog, German Shepherd Sam. Red Cross Barbie. Counselor Ken. Medic Sandy, Paramedic Rick. First Responder Joe.

But I don’t know how you can make a realistic toy. First Responder Joe will have ashes on his face, red rimmed eyes, a disheveled uniform, a damp and dirty bandana over his mouth, a helmet. Sometimes he even carries other things, bandages, water, and a special item in his pocket. Sometimes he carries a locket with the photos of his children inside to remind him to have courage in the face of a wall of flames. Have courage.

The children threatened in the blaze belong to someone. Not just to someone. They belong to all of us. In the absence of their parents, in the midst of the crisis, it becomes our responsibility to guard and protect. They are ours. The children are ours.

Photo courtesy of Kelowna Firefighters website on child safety.

God bless all the first responders, the hospital staff, the volunteers, the helpers who are out there now, guiding and protecting our fellow Californians.


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