When I interviewed Kiesa Kay, it didn’t take me long to realize she’ s a creative spirit with her hands in many projects. In fact, it was difficult for Kiesa to chose just two projects as her most significant accomplishments – A Dying Friend’s Wish and A French Attraction. Today, I’d like to share the healing process Kiesa went through and two discoveries she made along the way.
We had just the most beautiful log house in Colorado – it had a view of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide and we built it with our lives in mind, what our children would do, what we would do. I had always visualized my grandchildren dancing there and I had visualized the rest of my life there. That was all I’d ever dreamed of. I wanted to be a writer; I wanted to have a family.
Losing that life was a very difficult part of my divorce. All of those things were more or less yanked apart. I grieved terribly because I couldn’t live every day with my children. I loved being a mother and suddenly to have my children only half the time and to have half of the rest of their childhood taken away was devastating.
Right after my divorce was final, I went to France with my sister and my best friend and we spent three weeks in a castle. It was squandering my resources but I don’t know what I would have done without it. It was solely for pleasure and we did everything for fun we’ve ever thought about. And it worked. It’s hard to explain because when you’re divorced, especially from someone you deeply love for a long time, it really does feel like your heart has been ripped from your body. There is no way not to grieve. I felt very pressured the first couple of years and the joy of travel was how I did maintenance. I had a friend who loved England so we went there frequently. And I’d always wanted to see the Great Wall of China and a friend invited me to travel there with him. That’s how I stayed alive. I started really actively seeking a place that would feel like home to my soul.
What I found was that you don’t find home outside yourself. You find it inside. All of my seeking, all of my looking has led me back, at this time, to the North Carolina mountains. Now, the home that I carry in my heart can never be taken away from me.
Finding my home in my heart was, for me, really a matter of reconnecting with the natural world. I remember walking in a little woods and putting my hand on a tree. It was very, very old and I remember thinking, ‘this tree was here before my marriage and it will be here after I’m gone.’ Somehow, that gave me comfort. I had married my high school sweetheart and I truly believed that that love was eternal. What I’ve come to understand is that the love can be eternal even if the relationship can’t be. I started to look for things that felt eternal and felt like they’d continue. What I found was that even though there are things that feel eternal, they do change – the leaves change, the seasons change. Even though something may live or last a long, long time, it lasts by virtual of its ability to change. That gave me great comfort. Eternity doesn’t mean eternally the same.
If I were still married I would never have this. It wasn’t what I’d planned but it’s been a lot more exciting. They say that Einstein came up with his theory of relativity when he had a dream about riding a bolt of lightning and I feel like the last 10 years has been like that. I look back and wow!
Hearing Kiesa talk about reconnecting with the natural world was similar to what Page Lambert, another writer, said had helped her heal from her divorce – she went hiking and liked to become familiar with her surroundings through the different seasons. How important or helpful has it been to you to connect to nature? What about travel? Have you discovered new horizons since your divorce? Has traveling helped you?
For copies of Kiesa’s book of poems about divorce, Windstorm, contact the publisher, Passion Among the Cacti Press or contact Kiesa directly at Kiesa@oleandercottage.com.
Kiesa has written Princess Gilanee is a children’s story she finished writing for a friend who passed away. Copies of the book are available by sending a $10 donation to Forest Children Program, c/o Kiesa Kay, P.O. Box 545, Micaville, NC 28755.
Oleander Cottage is the writers’ retreat Kiesa established near Toulouse, France, in memory of her friend. You can find out more about Oleander Cottage at Kiesa’s website.