Former Paradise resident Kari Carter had moved to town three months before the Camp Fire. On that fateful day, "I got out with a leather duffle bag, my little dog Reese, my car, and with a couple of neighbors ... just minutes before roads turned to gridlock. From my cousin's living room in Chico, a handful of us watched the harrowing news footage of flames ripping through neighborhoods." Her place at Vista Village, she learned later, had turned to ash.
But her memoir isn't about "the horror of the event itself." It's just one of many losses she experiences ("I thought I had lost about everything a person could possibly lose in my sixty years of living") but the fire drives her to look more deeply within at her own responses and, she writes, to find the inner resources to continue on.
"Paradise Isn't Lost: Embracing Resilience In The Face Of Loss" ($16.50 in paperback, self-published, firstname.lastname@example.org; also for Amazon Kindle) is a clear-eyed chronological narrative dealing with loss before the fire, the fire itself, and, in the third part, "In Search of Meaning."
"I'd been a single parent and capable householder for fourteen years before meeting Randy," whom she married in 2000. Eventually they moved to Oroville to be close to his job at Feather Falls Casino, and she felt joy attending the Center for Spiritual Living. The group met monthly in Paradise and that became her introduction to the town she would later call home.
There are losses, from family members to precious possessions, even her marriage. Yet she finds resilience.
"The more I looked at resilience, the more I could see its connection to loss and grief. It doesn't matter what type of loss. Loss is anything that leaves a hole in one's heart. And loss comes with living. But the way our losses are grieved—or avoided—is another matter. The way in which grief is experienced and processed, influences whether we get stuck, or move forward."
In this book Carter moves forward.