Christopher Reeve is an inspiration who fought hard to live a fulfilling life despite a debilitating injury.
We knew Christopher Reeve as Superman but an accident he went through proved to the world that he was only human. Even though the spinal cord injury paralyzed him, it didn't stop him from going after what he wanted or spending time with his family. Through his lifetime, Reeve showed that you don't have to be able-bodied to be living a full life. Reeve is still a symbol of hope just like the Man of Steel character he played.
He and his wife, Dana, started the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, an organization that's dedicated to raising awareness and for aiding research for a cure for paralysis. The foundation is now under the aegis of Reeve's children, Matthew, 40, Alexandra, 36, and William, 28, as per Healthline. His youngest child was only 12 when the Superman actor passed away and 14 when his mother passed away from lung cancer at the age of 44.
William was able to spend precious moments with his father in his last days. Reeve died on October 10, 2004, and his wife shared his last moments with family, friends, and supporters by writing a letter about the film star and activist.
"On Saturday, October 9th, Chris spent his last day of consciousness doing what he loved to do," Reeve wrote, as per CNN. "He left a long phone message for Senator John Kerry lending his support and encouragement; he attended one of Will's [Reeve's son] hockey games, cheering as they won a huge victory, bursting with pride as Will was presented with the game puck for his outstanding playing that day. He and I spent the early evening on the phone and then he watched the Yankee game with Will and gobbled up one of his favorite meals, turkey tettrazini."
She wrote that he was excited about the future release of a film he directed, The Brooke Ellison Story, but he had been confined to his bed. She further added that he was stoic and didn't complain about the sores he had. "His comments were, as usual, more of an observation than a complaint," she said.
He passed away on October 10 but he had a lot more he wanted to accomplish, according to Dana. "Late that night, weakened by infection and the barrage of maladies which can accompany paralysis, his body failed him," she said. "At only 52, it was far too soon. There was much he still wanted to accomplish. There was much his children had yet to learn from him. It is completely unfair, but life can be that way," she said.
The actress said that they were able to stay a happy family even after Reeve's accident and disability. "These nine and a half years for our family have been blessed with joy, laughter, and lessons learned," she said. "Chris gave us all a precious gift by living the life he did, and despite the inherent difficulties of living with disability and illness on an ongoing basis -- or even, perhaps, because of the very nature of this life -- our family has remained happy, intact, focused, and deeply connected," she added.
The Rear Window actor died because of heart failure while he was at the Northern Westchester Hospital near his home in Bedford, New York. Initially, he had fallen into a coma.
His youngest son, Will, is continuing his work about raising awareness about spinal cord injuries and the foundation started by his parents. In 2019, Will said he knows his dad would be "very happy" and "thrilled to see old friends and make new ones and see the progress that’s been made," as per Healthline.
For as long as he could remember, his father battled his injury. Will had been only three years old when Reeve was thrown off his horse. He broke the top two vertebrae, per LATimes. Will saw his father as someone who "would never rest until the job is done." Now, following in his superdad's footsteps, Will has made raising awareness a part of his life, something his parents would be proud of him for.