September 6th, 2006

Felicia

Why Labor Day Weekend Needs to DIAF

September 3, 2004: My "Uncle" (close friend of the family) Kaveh hangs himself in his basement.


September 4, 2004: The suicide note Kaveh wrote/mailed out arrives at our house. We all take turns reading it incredulously, thinking it has to be some kind of mistake, until my mom starts calling people and confirms that, indeed, his wife came home and found him in the basement. My mom, Krissy, and I are emotional wrecks for the rest of the day. Not exactly great timing, because I'm getting married the next day and am heading out to Dave and Buster's with Nick and his family for a pre-wedding party. Nick has almost zero compassion when I call him, sobbing, with the news. To be fair, he saw Kaveh maybe once or twice, but it should have been obvious that the news was tearing me up. But, no. I'm still crying on the way to D&B's- not only because of Kaveh, but also because I'm being yelled at for not sucking it up and putting on a happy face. The rest of Nick's family is much more compassionate. Nick's sister-in-law leads me in a prayer in the middle of the gaming floor, which I appreciate even though I am an agnostic.

Why this insensitivity wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back concerning my and Nick's relationship troubles, I don't know. He was the first boyfriend I ever had, and because of that and several other unpleasantries I don't feel like dredging up right now, part of me was afraid that no one else would ever love me.

I managed to say my piece about Kaveh at the time. I don't really have much to add to it. I still miss him, he was an awesome guy, and I still tear up if I dwell on it too much. I haven't heard much about his wife or son since, but I do know they're still in Pittsburgh, and I think Armon (his son) is gearing up for second grade this year. Last I heard, he is secure in the knowledge that Daddy is in Heaven.


September 5, 2004: My wedding to Nick- admittedly a fun time, as I was determined to put the events of the day before in a quiet corner of my mind for later reflection. We moved into our apartment the same night. We separated two months later, and not long after that, Nick moved out. I wish I could've made one of our earlier breakups stick and just stayed friends with him. I wish we could have lived together prior to marriage, but we weren't able to afford it. Had we done so, I would have ended things much sooner. All the problems we had flared up a hundredfold when we lived together. Our daily routine soon lapsed into a cycle of 1) wake up in the morning, 2) fight, 3) go to work and cry all day, 4) come home, 5) fight, 6) go to bed, 7) back to step 1. I couldn't take it. Again, I've said my piece about this- as much as I want to say publicly, anyway. There are many details that I leave out for various reasons; email me if you're curious.


September 4, 2006: Two years to the day that I found out about Uncle Kaveh, I find out about Steve Irwin dying of something only a handful of people have ever died of- and the combination of this with all of the above hits me hard. I'm especially angry about certain people's callousness, vitriol, and hurtful joking- not like I could ever expect tact from the basement-dwelling slime of the Internet- but goddamn, no one like him deserves to die, and no one deserves to have his/her husband/father taken away like that. I sobbed at times. I still have a hard time thinking about it without tearing up- even at work- but I've at least gathered some semblance of a tribute here. It's meaningless now- should've sent it to him in a letter when he was alive to read it, goddamn it; I often thought of doing so but never did. Such is my stupidity and shortsightedness that I have yet to learn from my experience with Kaveh.

Steve Irwin was, without a doubt, my hero, and had been for years. I watched the various series he hosted throughout university, and had a blast seeing his endearingly silly movie and sharing it with others. A lot of people believe that he was a dumbass who provoked and antagonized animals for the sake of entertainment, but anyone who's actually spent time watching him, and not one of the numerous parodies/imitations of him out there, knows that that's not the case.

Steve had nothing but love, admiration, and respect for wildlife, and wanted to share that with the rest of the world. Along with filming documentaries, he ran a zoo and spent a great deal of his time relocating crocodiles and venomous snakes that would have otherwise been killed by fearful humans. He knew full well he was encroaching on their territory, and knew what that could lead to, but he had years of experience with such encounters and, though you may have seen him getting bitten or knocked around, he was never seriously hurt until the time of his death. Prior to that, he had never once been bitten by a venomous snake. During one of his shows, he explained his opinion that accidents like that were entirely the human's fault, and that someone who got "tagged" should think about what they were doing at the time to provoke the snake so as not to repeat that mistake. He held himself to those same standards.

To all the people who were crass enough to chuckle about his death, or claim that he deserved it (I still hate you), you know what? He would've handled your shittiness a lot better than I have been. He would have laughed with you, said "Yeah, that wasn't too smart," and would have gone on to explain whatever it was he'd done wrong (if anything- not like I personally witnessed what happened). And he would've made damn sure that no one villefied the stingray.

So yes, Steve was my hero. If you spent any time at all watching him, you walked away with a new appreciation for wildlife that you didn't have before. He was always upbeat, spoke to the audience like they were his best friends, and exuded the vibe of a Good Person. He had something going for him that most of us sorry jerks never will: his job and his life's passion were one and the same, and it was a passion his entire family shared (wife, daughter, and son). One of his series in particular, Crocodile Hunter Diaries, focused on his everyday life at Australia Zoo: working/playing with his family and coworkers, the constant improvements he made to the zoo habitats to keep the animals healthy and happy, and his love for every aspect of his life really showed through. He knew people made fun of him and called him crazy, and he didn't give a rat's ass. He was enjoying himself, and didn't wish ill on anyone (except, perhaps, poachers). This is part of the reason his death has hit me so hard; I saw so much of his everyday life that I almost feel like I knew him personally. I know that's dumb, but there it is.

I think what really kills me, though, is that of anyone on this planet, he deserved this least. He had made more out of his life than most people ever will, than I probably ever will. Dictators reach ripe old ages, serial murderers spend decades behind bars (or not)- those assholes live forever, but the one person I can definitively say was living life in every sense of the word has to die. I was really hoping to see him retire in his eighties somewhere, leaving the zoo to his children. I was really hoping to visit Australia one day and catch him in action, feeding the crocs- and maybe work up the nerve to say hi, shake his hand, thank him for all the fun.

After my first seizure in March, Remy and I were stranded in an ER examination room for several hours. I was very, very out of it and not entirely sure of anything that was going on. After we ran out of Doctor Who on Remy's laptop- the plot of which I couldn't really follow at the time- he started channel surfing. And as luck would have it, Crocodile Hunter was on. I squeed, and Remy and I watched it. It was comforting, having my fiancee there and being surrounded by "friends" during a very uncertain time. In a sense, Steve and his wife Teri were there for me when my immediate family (Mom, Ray, Krissy) couldn't be. I would've told him about that, too.

There are so few positive public role models these days. I would say Steve Irwin was one of the last. I very much hope Teri and their children keep that legacy going. My deepest condolences to them.