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kiota and the healing fire

One week after we hugged goodbye at my taxi, I'm sitting at the Healing Fire pit at the UVM Women's Center. There are four or five survivors and a couple of Rape Crisis Center advocates gathered in the circle.

I gently and quietly share mileposts on Kiota's path over the last ten years; they're surprised at first that I am not a survivor of rape but a mourner, then they are rapt with attention.

I can almost touch her again as the community builds. Other women there offer compassion and sheer presence. Suicide has touched a few of their lives also. One woman is struggling with a set of exploitive relationships right now -- all with other women [who are absent, thank goodness --- so she can speak frankly]. One, who complains of exactly the "social anxiety" that Ki was sad about in her own life, soon comes to feel so safe she steps completely out of character and asks for ways to contact us after the firepit is gone and we have left. She writes us down in her notebook.

There is an opportunity to send messages. I take a little 8 x 8 cm wood block and write the words KIOTARA LIGHT PEACE TO FIRE 1989-ETERNITY ... for I can't bring myself quite yet to write 2008 and that's not accurate to end her real life anyway.

Another person makes a place for the block on top of the glowing embers.

The block ignites little by little and burns very slowly, embraced by its ember bed. The words last a long time. The little block is actually melting away in layers, you can watch them peeling back to make heat and light. Ki whspers to me that it's a little gift of turning wood into energy because nothing is created and nothing is ever destroyed. Especially not love. We choose how much to dance in its deepest rich river, or maybe it chooses us.

There are much bigger logs on the fire but what matters are the little blocks.

I've run across a long-ago post where she explains that KIOTA is a word she made up, abbreviated from KIOTARA, which is a transliteration of a verb in the Korean language which means "to turn around". KI is pronounced "key". I used it a lot last week out there and I will use it a lot in all weeks, wherever my path points.

Her birthday is also the celebration day, here, of Take Back The Night and the Survivor Speakout.

It is not a coincidence at all.

The night feels cold but at the pit warmth is everywhere.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
My story of Anna
I became online friends with Anna when I had posted a comment in a friend's journal who had recently died. The mutual friend was named Sybil and she, too, died of a young age (cancer).

This was a long time ago...at least in internet years...2005.

So we befriended each other, through, Sybil. Reading Kiota's journal was always such a challenge for me. She so gifted yet so miserable. It was constant heartache and, in the last few months, we finally drifted apart.

I'm so sorry to learn of her passing. My heart aches much.

RIP, troubled girl

Here's a link to the exchange I refer to the above....Anna talks about how her own shock at Sybil's death. The irony of her words now is true salt in the wounds. :( :(
Apr. 19th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
Thank you, mia. This is a blessing. This our circle of grief is a blessing too. Like you.
Apr. 19th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
And, Mia, you are too too TOO humble: the rest of the thread below Ki's response is also awesome, especially your reply about how the essentials of life go right on after physical death. I've believed that too, for a long time.

Feeling how close to us she is right now is perfect evidence of that. Close and free of pain and free of torture and scars, and overflowing with hugs and shy smiles. All the more knowing smiles, now.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
Before your post I hadn't linked these things at all. Anna mentioned that she had intended this to be for another friend, but her friend died before she could receive it, and only after reading your post I realised she was talking about Fey.

I'm not attached to physical things at all - at least those that aren't letters or books written for me or anything of the sort. If you believe it'd help your grief or if you'd like to have it, let me know. I have many other things to remind me of her, and it sounds like you're a better destination for this than I am since I never really knew Fey at all.

I'm sharing a few pictures taken just now.

Apr. 22nd, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
Beautiful, lwithmin. And poignant. And like her: to celebrate the act of giving, where the act is very alive with caring.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
It is a pretty thing. And despite the size it seems to have on those pictures, it's rather small - 10cm (just under 4 inches) from the base to the tip of the fairy. I didn't have any moveable light, so that was the best I could come up with, but it really has a lot of colour.

If Mia would want it but would prefer to use you as intermediary (since she probably doesn't know who I am and might trust you more with her address) would you be willing to receive it and forward it?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Re: My story of Anna
Absolutely willing to do that. I've "known" her about 72 hours longer than you have, but she might very well prefer it this way. I think she's in the midwestern US somewhere and I'm in the northeast [at least at the moment,] so it obviously might be an efficient choice!
Apr. 19th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your lovely words. You touched my heart. :)

Would you mind I friend you? Hopefully I don't sound a little desperate right now. But, frankly, my sadness feels a little desperate.

I can't really make sense of this. Fey was such a sparkling person that it made sense to me at the time that I would meet Anna through her. I do think death can bring with it unexpected gifts. I hate to even use those words because, well, it tends to freak people out.
Death + gift = counterintuitive.

I don't get any of it but one way to make sense of things is to keep an open heart. I'm open despite it all.

Oh, and thanks, too, for posting about Kiota in your journal. You were obviously such a good friend to her. :)
Apr. 19th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, Mia, please do that. I've added you already.
At the end, Kiota wrote the book on desperation. And she doesn't want you to apologize. And I don't either.

She has gotten far far closer to me in these last two weeks than she's been in the past four years, and THAT was pretty close, let me tell you! A whole new map of what I'm supposed to do now is coming into focus. It's one of the reasons I flew to Olympia in the first place, and beforehand I really didn't even know if we'd even be able to meet f 2 f at all. Silly, silly me.

Look what happens when you keep your heart open ... :)
Apr. 19th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
:) :)

You know, I've been reading over your last few entries and can see you are a true pillar of strength as all these people reach out to you, wanting answers, seeking comfort and needing a place (just like me) that is safe to vent.

I'm happy to learn that you are holding up well and are starting to focus on what comes next. If you need a shoulder, though, please know I'll be here for you. :)
Apr. 20th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
awwwwwwww....*seeks your shoulder*

a long time ago I discovered your username [prob in a Kiota reply] and I thought it was soooooo cute: wondered if you were really fed up and it turns out that you were, some / much of the time!

I'm feeling a lot of closure today and yesterday, and I'm sure it comes from so many new LJ friends I will prob never meet irl, and I think this whole thing is the miracle of the net. Many are sending support to me and they're not even typing a single word about it: I can simply feel it..... I'm amazed that I've become a kind of 'Grieving Central' on here, and I'm so honored that the family wants to share in a safe space --- I really am. I just think that Ki was all about DOING things for endangered kids and writing essays and making photo art [some of it very haunting] and I want to honor that in my own life [being active is my orientation too.] Life is NOT a spectator sport, goes the cliche'.

Neither of the two reasons I ventured so far out West was a compelling one when I bought the JetBlue tickets: and by the time I got back on the plane, Kiota had one day to live --- --- and I knew even before that what the reasons I needed to be out there really were. (Unpolished English, it's midnight plus.]

Before we met I realized that an online personality and an irl one might not be the same, so I was kinda full of question marks. She was too. Then miracles started to happen.

Which still continue!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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