Today is a sad day indeed. Steve Irwin passed away yesterday from a sting-ray barb to the heart, a death that only two others in recorded history have shared -a bit of irony as he did so many dangerous things in his life. Unfortunately, I feel like that's overshadowed his achievements somewhat, and it's important to remember that he was a conservationist, an environmentalist, a humanitarian, a devouted animal lover, husband, best friend and father.
He himself, in an interview for his show a couple of years back, joked that he knew he had to be extra careful because, if he slipped up and died, everyone would say instantly, "I knew a croc would get 'im!" That's much the attitude that I've seen online today, and that's completely understandable. I remember when I first saw him and Terri on the Discovery Channel, I thought he was insane! I think, though, that we have to get past how dangerous his work was by realizing how very, very careful he was, and that this tragic accident occured probably because he wasn't expecting very many, if any, complications or threats.
And, of course, his work was overshadowed in the last few years by the so-called "Baby Bob Incident", something people should be ashamed for. It was Australia's attempt to take him down a peg (he was late in catching on there and, even when he did, was resented terribly!) and it was sad to see that not even Animal Planet really stood behind him (they issued a statement with
a disclaimer). He was a professional as well as a doting father, and I trusted him completely that he would never put his son at risk. It's the way he grew up, and the way he was raising his own children. He was the real deal, unlike so many of the prettier, flashier television personalities out there.
What people usually fail to mention about the "baby dangling" was that the press were there at special invitation or they would have never have gotten their "money shot." It was Bob's christening, performed by a group of visiting Buddhist nuns in Croc Stadium. It was the end of the day, the crocs had been fed and exercised and, if you see film of it, you can see how far Steve is keeping his son from the croc. Do I sound defensive? Yeah, I do. Because it's stupid that that should have overshadowed all the good work he'd done, because he passed on with that attitude still being the prevalent one. Because he raised his daughter in the exact same way but the press weren't there to get pictures of it, so they weren't interested. Because Bindi Sue is so well adjusted and so much like her father,a s Bob will probably be in the future.
His fans -like me, a die-hard- got to know Steve through the tele, his warmth, his passion. He opened up his life and his heart to us and we truly felt like he was our friend.
I can't imagine, therefore, the pain that the people so close to him, the people whose lives he touched personally, feel right now. His marriage to Terri was what he himself described as a true love story; his devoution to his kids so strong, and you can see from Bindi Sue's mischievous smile that they were so much alike. His best friendship with Wes, who shared in duties at the Australian Zoo as well as his friends' passion to conservation. My heart goes out to all those whose lives were made better for knowing him. Their fans' grief is great, their own grief must be shattering.
It does always seem to be the great, kind ones whom tragedy befalls; not just the famous, but the truly good at heart. His heart was enormous, it encompassed his family, his fans and his causes. And that's how he should be remembered. The world is an emptier place for the loss of him.