Saturday, September 30, 2006

So long, Steve Irwin

When I go, I hope Beck talks about me like Terry talks about Steve.

The day that popular television personality Steve "Crocodile Hunter"
Irwin died was the day his wife, Terri, says she lost her prince.

It's been almost a month since a stingray barb killed her husband of
14 years, piercing his heart as he filmed a show on the Great Barrier
Reef. Terri spoke with Barbara Walters, in her first interview since
Irwin's death, about how she is coping.

"One minute at a time. Sometime an hour at a time. With great faith,
great determination," Terri says. "I have tremendous faith in God that
all things happen for a reason, even if we don't understand. & I have
two beautiful children. And they really are my strength."

Terri met Steve Irwin on Oct. 6, 1991. The Oregon native was visiting
Australia with friends. "I went into this little reptile park, and
Steve was doing the crocodile show, coincidentally. & I was absolutely
floored. That was it. This man was a real-life hero. I fell then and
there, love at first sight."

They started talking, and Terri says it became clear that Steve liked
her too. But he told her he had a girlfriend. "I was a little bit
devastated, she says." But that lovesick devastation didn't last for
long. Steve introduced Terri to his girlfriend Sue, a little dog.

Six months later, they were married.

Terri says she'd marry Steve again in a minute, even knowing how it would end.

Despite the loss of her husband, Terri says she still feels blessed
that she had him in her life. "I had romance like I didn't think
existed anymore, a wonderful romance. He was passionate and determined
and enthusiastic."

He had so much enthusiasm for life, that at times, Terri says, it was
hard to keep up with him. "There were so many things that made me
crazy, like his desire to do everything now. He had a real sense of
urgency with his life and no side view business plan. If you got
plans, we'll do them now."

At Irwin's memorial service, it was said over and over again how
"Steve changed the world." Terri says he changed the world by giving
everyone a message. "If you can reach out and touch and love and be
with wildlife, you will forever be changed and you will want to make
the world a better place. & If we do nothing... we're in trouble. And
he did more than anybody. So I think we can all do something."

As the Irwin family continues to grieve, there's one thing Terri says
she misses the most. "He was fun. He was fun. He taught me it's OK to
play in the rain. And splash in my puddle. And let the kids get dirty.
And spill ice cream on your pants. He didn't sweat the little stuff.
He followed the big picture. And he had fun! Now I'm going to work
really hard at having fun again. & I'm Mrs. Steve Irwin. I've got a
lot to live up to."

Terri remembers how much her husband loved being in the wild. "When he
was in with those crocodiles, all he wanted to do was show you and
convince you why you should love them... He just absolutely loved
crocodiles... But you know how he saw them. Not as weird. He saw them
as dinosaurs... He saw them as the most amazing animals."

Bindi, their 8-year-old daughter, reminds Terri of her husband. "Bindi
has a spirituality about her that I've seen with Steve. She has
unbelievable sensitivity. She has an uncanny connection with wildlife.
She has a love for them that was just like her dad's. & She seems to
feel an animal. She seems to understand it and have this great gift of

Bindi has begun to follow in her father's footsteps. She's on a new
series the Discovery Network has developed called "Bindi the Jungle
Girl," which Bindi hosts herself.

And what's in Terri's own future? "I have to be here for my
children," she says. "I have to make sure the zoo keeps running. He
planned all of that masterfully. He planned this wonderful business so
that it could continue if anything happened to him."

And if the youngest of the Irwin clan, 2-year-old Robert, has any say
in future plans, his father will be back in their lives. Just the
other night, Terri says she found Robert fixing a motorbike with a
screwdriver. She asked him what he was doing, and he answered, "I'm
fixing the motorbike so Daddy can drive it from heaven."