Saturday, May 05, 2007

How To Die a Hero's Death

Trevor Sheehy died a hero’s death. Faced with inoperable cancer, he passed on Nov 22 of last year.

He died with as much courage as he lived. He had wandered the whole earth in a career of pure adventuring that spanned three decades. In the last year of his life he lived on the exotic island of Zanzibar and in the Australian back country of Kakkidu.

When colon cancer metastasised, he returned to Oregon to die at a time and place of his choosing. Utilizing that state’s assisted suicide law he acquired a killing dose of barbiturates. He continued to enjoy his life and friends until he decided his moment had come. Assembling family and friends he said "its been great. but its time to go." As he ate the fatal applesauce, he joked that this desert would not likely catch on. In just moments he lay down and died. That’s how a hero dies. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered on Moro Bay, Ca.

I had the pleasure of Trevor’s company for a few years as we traveled and camped in the West. He confronted the mystery of existence with faith and not belief, rejecting the onerous doctrines of conventional religion. In a final conversation with me he said he didn’t know what, if anything lay on the "other side," but he was going there willingly and without fear. That’s a hero’s death!

No one ever described it better than William Cullan Bryant in the final words of "Thanatopsis."

"So live–that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death—that thou go not like a quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but soothed and sustained and with an unfaltering trust approach thy grave—as one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams."

The picture is of Trevor, Diana and I hiking in Zion in May 2000.


Johnny Austin said...

Great Post, Trevor is a hero and I would like to have his hero's end as well.

Johnny Austin said...

Great Post! Trevor is a hero! I too would prefer his hero's end.