Thursday, October 21, 2004

More about Christopher Reeves

Today Christopher Reeves is pretty much old news. If I wanted to be of the moment, I suppose I would have something clever to say about Jon Stewart. But I don't.

So, for the last decade or so, I've been pretty much as cranky about Christopher Reeves as the average disability rights activist. "Yeah, anyone could make 'amazing progress!' who had 3 nurses caring for him around the clock," I've scoffed. But I didnt think about him much, until recently, when I read a letter to the Sun in which woman married to a quad admits that she didnt like herself very much when she laughed at jokes about Christopher Reeves and his wife. And he kept coming up in other conversations too.

And then he died. You must have read at least one article gushing about what a hero he was. So, it was with some sceptism that I read my daily dose of humanity from Babara Crafton at the Geranium Farm and a link sent by Jeff about him. What did Superman's life have to do with the average person with, for example, my husband's disability?

Both Barbara's stepson and Daniel's dad died years ago - infection took them long before they could make any "amazing progess." And although they talk about him in different ways, both of them marked Reeve's progress over the years. With each of his accomplishments, they didnt scoff like I did. They cheered. "Here's what would have been possible," they thought.

I've not lost someone close to me. How can I know what that is like? But I can recognize in Daniel's writing, and in Barbara's, the longing to see in a person of accomplishment something that is no longer possible in someone we love. Maybe fame isnt all about looks (Reeves certainly had them) or talent or money or power or just plain shallow materialism. Maybe it's about seeing in another human something that is both just like us, and at the same time something more than we could ever imagine.

When I read their writing, and got knocked a little off the high horse from which I was looking down at unfamous people who have to get their life's meaning from famous ones, I was reminded of something else. I was reminded me of why I'm even a person of faith in the first place. Because other Christians before me and around me, and across the whole world are both the same, and are more. More loving, more spiritual, more of a mess and more graceful at admitting it, more willing to talk to God, more in touch with their own humanity (and other people's too), more humble, more courageous, more simple, more complicated.... And I want to get a piece of that beautiful, eye-opening, heart-stopping more.

I used to scoff. But I dont now. Thanks Barbara. Thanks Daniel. And thank you, Mr. Reeves.

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