Picture being in a chaos of people, people with lifetimes of memories together, with old fights and recent joys to share. A mess of people, all with different personalities and communication styles and volumes. And you, my friend, are the outsider, the newcomer, the stranger.

Yes, I’m talking about a family reunion. My partner’s family has yearly reunions and they are large, and loud, and frankly they are terrifying. People are teasing and laughing and arguing with the easy comfort of family. People are rehashing old debates and grilling and getting drinks and discussing sleeping arrangements and plans. And, the outsider (me), who is an only child (me), from a small and dysfunctional (me) family, is watching, trying to sulk into a corner, terrified of the noise, and the intimacy and the chaos and the powerlessness of not having my bearings, or my place…
And what could be more comforting than a Cricket.

My first family camp was a truly intimidating experience. One of my happiest memories is sitting on the deck by the hot tub with a drink and taking to Cricket. We talked about nature and about bugs. She showed me her beautiful drawings of things like grasshoppers, ants, butterflies. I loved the comfort and peace of sitting there perusing her drawings and reading her comments in her small, even handwriting. I loved the quietness of sitting with her.

I can’t say I knew Cricket well. We weren’t geographically close enough to the family to go to a lot of things and I’m not a phone person… but I recognized in her a kindred spirit. I was spared the family history of disputes and painful memories. I got to enjoy her childlike enthusiasm and her open acceptance. She made me feel welcome in her life and she made me feel like family.

Cricket passed away in her sleep last week. We were both looking forward to seeing her during the holidays and feeling a bit guilty for being out of touch, not just with her, but with most of the family. I know I am going to miss her. I will miss giving her a big hug and talking about nature. And I will miss the welcome only she could give.

I know she is at peace now. And the world is sadder without her fragile wonder in it. Rest in peace.


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