I was stunned when I heard the Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter," had died earlier today while diving near his home in Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. He was filming and caught a stingray barb to the left side of his chest. I did a little reading and discovered that the hole from a stingray barb can be the size of a dime. That's damned big.
Some "expert" on stingrays claims that the only way someone could die from a stingray barb is if it struck near the heart *and* they had a reaction to the sting. However, I read an American article whose author claims the U.S. Coast Guard estimates as many as 70% of stingray victims go into severe shock and are in danger of dying -- so many that they offer to fly victims to seek medical care. I don't know. Apparently, Steve Irwin suffered enough damage that he died at the site where he was stung.
I had a strange connection with Steve-o. During my months of chemotherapy, when I was too weak and sick to do anything else, I looked forward to the "Croc Hunter" episodes on Animal Planet. Here was a delightful urchin of a man -- a grown-up little boy, really -- who lived his life with enthusiasm. Steve seemed like a four-year-old boy in a man's body. He lept down from and scrambled up trees like a monkey. His unabashed love for reptiles and amphibians was evident; his dedication to them was unapologetic and whole-hearted.
He lived doing what he loved to do.
I determined that if I survived my cancer treatment, I would commit to writing -- that I'd live my life doing what I loved to do. Steve (and his wife, Terri) have been a huge inspiration to me. My heart goes out to Bindi and Bob, their children, for their huge loss. I hope they realize that having this wonderful spirit as a father was a supreme honor. And I mourn for Terri and the loss of her mate.
God bless you, Steve. The world is a dimmer place without you.