Did these two women deliberately walk into the desert to die?


Craters of the Moon, near Arco, Idaho. Photo: www.jdonahue.com

If so, I applaud them, for they are pioneers.

I wonder: Did these two two women (63 and 69 years old) decide in advance to slip out of the third dimension at the Craters of the Moon, a remote, forbidding area in Idaho near both civilization (Twin Falls) and the secretive, nuclear INEEL (Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory), with both companionship and aloneness, their bodies not to be found until over a month had passed?

If so, however much “the authorities,” the public, and their family and friends will all try to make sense of the tragedy, putting it through the usual slots (accident, sudden medical event (but two of them?), murder, suicide) I sense that the mystery will remain. So they’ll make up a story, to satisfy curiosity and give closure; but whatever they make up will be a lie, or at the very least, a wild guess, a hope, despite the secret (because shameful) suspicion of “double suicide.” For that is what this culture would call it.

So I do wonder. For years, I thought that the way I would choose to die would be the way I imagine they did. In a somewhat remote, wild area, I would lay my body down for its final rest. The Idaho desert would be one obvious choice, since I grew up in Twin Falls, about an hour south of the eerie Craters of the Moon.

For me, to die in this manner, the transition between zones would not be violent, but rather gentle, and glad. The way my husband Jeff left this world, in the early morning, while lying in bed alone, my just vacated body’s heat still warming his backside. For though he was cold that night of his departure, he waited until I left the bed for his heart to give out.

Jeff’s death was civilized. Mine might not be. Out on the desert to die. I would lay me down to sleep. Letting go of food and water, asking animals to leave me be, until dead.

My body would not be found until after coyotes and eagles and wolves had torn it to shreds, stripped it of flesh, and scattered the bones.

Downright Buddhist!

And a manner of dying that very few would emulate, at least in the U.S. Too difficult, the transition between the usual superficiality in our culture and the depth of dying in the wild too abrupt, sudden, and impossible to process. Unless, of course, I lived out there for awhile, beforehand.

A few months ago I thought of another way of letting go naturally, one which others might be able to get behind. This would be to let go of food and drink in the presence of loving people, friends and family, at least nearby and supporting my sacred initiation, the one I had been aiming for all my life, zeroing in on it year by year like a heat-seeking missile. Not that I’ve felt “suicidal.” Just that I knew that when the time comes, I want to die a conscious death, and in fact, be in charge of when, where, how, and why! Does this go against the laws of nature? Or just the laws of culture. I think the latter.

For me, the time will come when I realize (hopefully) that I am no longer useful to society, but that rather, my life has become a burden. I may be “ill;” I may not be. Having a terminal illness is not the criterion. If I do have a terminal illness, then hospice is the obvious choice. But if not? Having no fear of death (though I do fear pain!), I would like to exercise the choice of dying consciously.

And this second, easy, cushy, companionable way of dying made me think of natural deathing centers, just like natural birthing centers, where we go to be supported in letting go, and without our companions being charged with murder!

This would be ideal. In my imagination, these two women in Idaho’s Crators of the Moon were intimate, perhaps in a long-term manner, but only so far. For it appears that each preferred to die alone. Or perhaps they understood that each of us does, ultimately, die alone.

Missing Hiker Recovered at Craters of the Moon

Aaaah. Here’s an updated story from this morning, saying that they both died of hypothermia. Which of course, doesn’t really answer our questions. The story also said that their two dogs were left in their pickup truck, and suggests that this means the women didn’t think they’d be gone long. Or, I suggest: they knew someone would come along, find the dogs, and start the search.

Questions Remain after Missing Hiker Found Dead

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0 Responses to Did these two women deliberately walk into the desert to die?

  1. Jamie says:

    This is a very ‘Saturn in Scorpio’ subject; It begs to be openly discussed and embraced.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

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