Steve

Recently, I started watching “Crikey, It’s the Irwins” on Animal Planet and I have mixed feelings about it.

They intersperse new footage of Terri, Robert and Bindi doing their thing at Australia Zoo with relevant old footage of Steve Irwin doing his thing years ago.

It’s bittersweet, that’s for sure.

Every time I hear Steve’s voice and see him on tv – his larger than life personality, his charming Australian accent, his overflowing enthusiasm for all things wildlife – I’m reminded of how much the world needs him in it, and how very much I miss him.

It may sound strange, coming from a middle-aged administrator living in California, some 7,000+ miles from Australia Zoo.

I live in a completely different world than Steve Irwin.

But 20 years ago when my kids were newborns, there were few choices of what to watch on tv at 2 am, 3 am, or 4 am in the morning as far as quality entertainment goes.

Back then, Animal Planet ran episodes of The Crocodile Hunter late into the night and I found myself up at night with my newborns, watching the adventures of Steve Irwin.

And let me tell you, he was as good as it gets.

This was back before the days of on demand TV when you could only watch what was on the tv or what you’d recorded to video.

Yes, video.

I closely associate Steve Irwin with the infancies of my kids and to hear his voice or see him on tv transports me back to those days when I was a young exhausted mother, struggling to get my kids to sleep so that I could go back to sleep myself.

Steve was so good at entertaining me, I often waited for the episode to complete, even after my kids were asleep, so that I could see the conclusion of the episode.

That’s how good he was.

I’m thrilled of course to see Terri still doing her thing for wildlife conservation and it warms my heart to see Steve and Terri’s two kids, Bindi and Robert joining forces with their mother.

They have the same light that their father had.

So of course it’s nice to see Steve living on in the faces and the enthusiasm and passion his children have for wildlife.

But I still miss Steve.

Steve and Anthony

When my boys were little, there were two men who helped me through all those sleepless nights – Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter and Anthony Bourdain the American Chef.

Late at night, there’s not much TV to watch and so what did I do at 3 am when Duncan or Gavin needed a feeding?

I watched Animal Planet and The Travel Channel.

Quality entertainment at breastfeeding o’clock in the morning.

When Steve Irwin passed away in 2006, I was heartbroken.

It was as if I’d lost an intimate family member, such was my grief.

Now, upon hearing the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, I am filled with the same grief.

Those two men kept me company when I was up all alone, taking care of my boys, trying to get them to go back to sleep so that I could then go back to sleep.

My ex-husband was still sleeping in bed, but Anthony and Steve, they were with me.

I have plumbed the depths of despair myself, when my oldest son passed away from cancer in 1998.

I know what it’s like to feel like the burden you carry is too much to go on.

My heart breaks a little when I think of the suffering that someone must be going through to actually take their own life.

There’s no way to make sense of premature loss from suicide but there is a way to help prevent them.

We need to remove the stigma on mental illness, which is just as rooted in biology and biochemisty as any illness so that people can get the help they need without fear of judgment.

I promise to all my family and friends who love and care for me, that I will always take my mental health seriously, and that I will reach out when I’m not feeling all that great.

I also promise to make myself available at 3 am, when things are rough, and they just need someone to talk them though the night.

Just like Steve and Anthony did for me.