I had some friends to take with me to the temple. I took pics of Jazzy, Ray, The Brothers Jones, and my little Cricket.
I love the temple. It’s reverent. There’s an energy that’s so overwhelming. It really is sacred, blows my mind every time. It’s beautiful and loving, and unique to itself.
I put Cricket’s pics up first. Then I slowly walked the grounds, reading dozens of memorials, touching with my fingers those that touched my heart, adding my friends. After the week I’d had – I didn’t bike out ’til Saturday; the burn was almost over – it was a sanctuary. I sat down and drank in the quiet hush. Chimes, bells, singing bowls, sniffles, the low hum of voices, laughter.
Outside, I burned sage around the perimeter from my friends’ ranch, that I introduced who got married out there. (I put it out on the chain guard of my bike. I love the burn scar.) I was ready to leave then, but I wanted to see my Cricket once more.
Silly, I dismissed it. I have all of those pictures at home.
I started to leave. I turned back. I wanted to see my Cricket again, here.
I couldn’t find her. I was immediately panicked. I kept looking. I really couldn’t find her. I put her near another cat memorial fairly low, right inside the first entrance I walked in. I could not find her. I saw strangers’ pics that I remembered, but not her.
I was frantic. It was instant. I tried to tell myself that it belonged to my difficult week, some reverb stress bubbling up, but no amount of reasoning could calm me down. It didn’t matter that I’d see the pictures elsewhere. I had to see her, now. I was almost in tears, and not the appropriate, mourning kind. The unhinged kind.
Settle, Christie. She’s here.
I looked again and could not find her. I was flipping out inside and just about to lose it. I was standing in the middle of the temple with people all around me, barely holding it together. I closed my eyes and took slow breaths that felt like drowning.
You don’t have to see her, Christie. She’s here.
I did have to see her. I felt sick. I couldn’t leave without seeing her, and the fear I wouldn’t find her brought the panic up again, because I also wanted to get out of there!
I knew if I opened my eyes, I’d cry. Loudly. I didn’t want consolation. I wanted to disappear, to freak out without notice and search wildly. I didn’t want to pretend my tears were holy so my panic attack wouldn’t ruin the vibe. I just wanted my cat!
And there she was. I don’t remember opening my eyes. I just found myself looking up at an image so bright, I couldn’t imagine how I’d missed her my first time through. Someone had painted a portrait of their beloved kitten, and it was Cricket.
“I’m just here.”
It was as though she was showing me what she looks like now. I’ve asked!
She still has her cricky ear.
I stood motionless and sobbed. Dripping, silent tears. I could breathe.
She found me. I didn’t look for my pictures after that, just stood smiling, and crying a river of relief and awe. I closed my eyes again, and held her for the longest time.
I looked down. A man sitting beneath me was holding his hand up to me. I don’t know how long he’d been offering, but I took his hand and went back to my Cricket for a little longer.
When I was ready, I thanked the man, took one last look at my girl, and left.
Leaving the temple, I knew the panic I fell into had nothing to do with the rough burn I’d had, and everything to do with losing my kitty. I was panicked then, too. I was with her.
I love Burning Man. It’s a crucible. It shoves all of you onto you, out of the blue and all at once, then holds you up while you heal.
I needed to have a panic attack in a safe place, in front of my biggest fear: witnesses. The temple wouldn’t let me go until I progressed through a barrier.
And my cat was there to help me grieve her death. I mean, come on! Fucking magic.