Tuesday, October 12, 2004

On Christopher Reeve

It's bad form, really, to speak ill of the dead, especially the recently deceased. So I haven't mentioned the death of Christopher Reeve here. Not that I'd speak ill of him. Not exactly. But, today, over at Slate's poems forum, I noticed a friend there had revisited a discussion from a couple of years ago regarding Reeve. He'd attended a play on Broadway and there in the audience was Reeve, enjoying the play. He posted how much a hero he thought Reeve for basically appearing in public. And I disagreed. At that point, I'd only published one poem with Slate, though a third will appear sometime in the next few months. No one there knew I was disabled and in the course of things I mentioned that biographical tidbit. Here's what I posted over at Slate:

Hi everybody,

Any disagreements Reeve and I might have had were largely over rhetoric. It wasn't so much that I thought he wasn't a hero. He just wan't a hero for going out to see a play, as when Martin saw him. In many ways, he was a hero and made a lasting contribution.

However, Reeve lived in a near obsessive fantasia that revolved around regaining his old life. Which was impossible, in the sense that he would always be changed no matter how much he recovered. Now that he has died, I can only wonder about all the hours spent in physical therapy every day. By some reports, he would begin at 7a.m. Could those hours have been better spent?

I can only say, for myself, the answer is yes. His determination was admirable and more progress was made because of him than would have happened otherwise, but I think I could safely wager that had he lived another twenty or thirty years science would still not have given him the ability to walk again.

I have a better chance, perhaps, than him. My injury was not nearly so severe. The cord was not severed, as his was.

That said, it's something I rarely think about. No one is "confined" to a wheelchair unless he thinks he is. Reeve gave every indication he did.

That isn't peace. I wish he had found it in life. Maybe he has at last.



To read the whole thread:



So that's my take, more or less, really. From afar, what he endured bordered on the inhumane and it's hard not to wonder about his ravaged appearance in recent years. The loss of hair. He had no eyebrows, for God's sake. One can only imagine what, if any, medicines/treatments he reached ever after and what effects they had on a body that struggled to breathe, to keep going.

Still, it's an awful end to an icon. The first two Superman movies were some kind of wonderful.

1 comment:

Charles said...

You've definitely given me a lot to think about here. While I never considered Reeve a hero for surviving, I guess it does point out some bias abled culture expressed toward the disabled—that abled culture perceives disability as such a curse...and I think you rightly identify Reeve as having internalized this feeling.

Persuasive. And, I think, well-put.