I came home late tonight from another late evening at work. In a quiet office, with nary a soul in sight, I was finally able to finish some nagging projects. Even the rat that had been haunting our office was gone, captured in a rat trap last night. As long as new action items don’t descend upon me like hail stones, I think I will soon get through this latest wave of work that struck my desk like a hurricane hitting a disaster area. Lately it seems that my standard response to the greeting, "How are you?" is "Busy!" I suppose that people don’t really care to know how I really am doing when they ask that question. It’s a standard greeting that does not need an honest response. Whenever I think life is difficult, I reflect on the fact that life could be much, much worse.
Tonight I was reminded of this fact by the death of Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve. What happened to the Reeve family is nothing short of heart wrenching. They met in 1987 and married in 1992. Back in 1987, Christopher Reeve was an accomplished actor, best known for his portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman in the "Superman" movies. Dana was an actress who worked in theater. Christopher had two children from a previous relationship with Gae Exton, a modeling executive, and Dana and Christopher gave birth to Reeve’s youngest son, Will, in 1992. Life must have been exceptional for the Reeve family before Christopher’s infamous equestrian riding accident in 1995, which left him completely paralyzed and on a respirator for the rest of his life. The Reeve family pulled through and became an inspiration to many Americans when they launched the Christopher Reeve Foundation to promote stem cell research and find a cure for paralysis. Reeve was an inspiration for his determination to conquer quadriplegia. Although he never was able to walk again, he was able to move his fingers and toes, an amazing accomplishment for someone who could not control body movement below his neck.
In 2004, Christopher Reeve died of heart failure, a complication related to his quadriplegic condition. Dana Reeve lost her life’s mate. Last year, she also lost her mother, and she was subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer, despite the fact that she never smoked. On March 6, 2006, at age 44, she succumbed to lung cancer. Dear Reader, can you imagine the tragedy that befell this family? Two people, whose lives seems so idyllic, almost a fairy tale, when they married, ended so tragically just 13 years later? I feel so bad for their children, especially Will, who is now an orphan. His two other brothers lost their father and step-mother. Stories such as these only serve to remind of the precious nature of life and how fleeting it can be, how quickly it can turn from tranquil to tragic. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, rich or poor, risk-taking or cautious, successful or nondescript, good or bad. Tragedy can strike anyone, at any time. The Reeve family was very wealthy, and the children will be well taken care of from the Reeve estate, but money cannot replace the loss of a parent or another loved one. Life is so unpredictable that it’s vital to live each day as if it were your last, cherishing the ones you love, and preparing for what may lie ahead in the afterlife and preparing those you leave behind.
Life is indeed short. At 42, Dana Reeves was what…2-ish years my senior?
You are young… but do not miss out on one moment… nay, one SECOND of this precious gift.
We do not believe in our own mortality… but when the umbrella is lifted with the passing of our own parents, we realize… We are next.
Peace be with you