Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dana Reeve

There is no justice in this world. Here's the sad announcement in yesterday's Globe and Mail:
Writing a tragic coda for a life story already overstuffed with adversity, Dana Reeve, the 44-year-old widow of Superman actor Christopher Reeve, passed away Monday night at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan after a brief battle with lung cancer.

Ms. Reeve leaves the couple's 13-year-old son, Will, and her two grown stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

The cancer was yet another of her life's many antagonists she had done nothing to invite, for Ms. Reeve was not a smoker. But she was not alone. When she announced her illness last August, cancer experts noted that one in five women diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. …

photo of Dana Reeve
Dana Morosini was a promising actress and singer when she met Christopher Reeve while performing in a late-night cabaret at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1987. The two married in April, 1992, and she delivered their son Will two months later.

Ms. Reeve performed off-Broadway and on television, and served on the boards of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
Talk about not getting your just deserts. Dana Reeve gave up her acting career to care for her husband after he was rendered quadriplegic by a riding accident in 1995.

She also campaigned alongside him. Together, they promoted paralysis research and called attention to quality-of-life issues for the disabled, particularly those with spinal cord injuries. The Christopher Reeve Foundation raises about $14 million per year in charitable donations.

I admire the selfless choices Ms. Reeve made after a tragedy that interrupted the course of her life.

Yes, most women stay with their husbands to support them when a catastrophic illness or injury occurs. And I suppose it was made easier in her case because of the money available to her.

On the other hand, you could argue that she was living a Hollywood dream-come-true that was rudely interrupted. If Ms. Reeve was a shallow human being — as some celebrities appear to be — she might have looked to escape from her marriage.

Instead, she honoured the marriage commitment, "in sickness and in health". That is a thankless position to be in when the "sickness" is quadriplegia.

Christopher Reeve died nearly a decade after his accident, in October, 2004. At that point, Ms. Reeve might have begun to build a new life for herself. Instead, less than a year later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer.

Senator Diane Feinstein sums it up:  "I thought that after everything that she had gone through with Chris that she would have time to smell the flowers and be in the sun. But apparently that was not meant to be."

copyright © 2006, Stephen Peltz


At 7:11 AM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Mary P. said...

No justice? Well, certainly not for poor Dana Reeve, nor for her son. Both parents gone at thirteen. Poor boy.

At 3:44 PM, March 11, 2006, Blogger LoryKC said...

Certainly no justice for the boy. The hubbie and I were talking about it after Ms. Reeve's death was made public. I said one could argue that at least she could be with Chris again but I can't find any silver lining for the boy that's been left behind.

At 7:11 PM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

You two are quite right, of course. In the post, I was focussing quite narrowly on the injustice to Dana Reeve. But my heart also goes out to Will, their son.

It's horrible to be orphaned so young; to lose your Mom so soon after losing your Dad.

Christopher Reeve had two grown children, and Dana's father and two sisters are still alive. Presumably one of the family members will raise Will, so at least he can be with someone who knew both his parents.


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