Friday, March 10, 2006

The Thousandth Woman: Dana Reeve 1961-2006

I saw the news report about the death of Dana Reeve earlier this week, and was shocked and saddened. Fate never went halfway with the Reeve family, nor did it give them a break.

They were two people who had everything: fame, wealth, athletic good health, career success, a happy marriage and a healthy child. And then, one day, you go out to ride on your horse the way you've done it for years, and you don't ride back home because you've fallen and broken your neck. You'll never ride, or walk, again. You're stuck in a wheelchair, a prisoner of your useless, paralyzed body; what was once finely-tuned muscle and bone is transformed into so much useless meat. You don't even have the ability to take your own life. You are totally at the mercy of others.

I understand that, sometime after the realities of the situation sank in (he was doomed to live a few years at best, as a quadraplegic with many health problems, any one of which would most likely kill him sooner rather than later), Christopher told his wife Dana that she should end their marriage, take their child and the vast majority of their assets, and try to start her life again with someone else. She reminded him of their wedding vows of "for better or for worse," turned down his offer, and stuck with him to the end.

Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" begins, "One man in a thousand... will stick more close than a brother." Finding someone you can truly count on in life is that rare, but by all indications Dana Reeve was that "Thousandth Woman." Rest in Peace.