I remember the day well: the day Superman was hit with kryptonite. I was setting up an appointment to learn how to ride a horse, when the news bulletin came out that Christopher Reeve fell off his horse while jumping, and would either die or be permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
I could hardly breathe hearing this news. Here was a gorgeous, tall, strong man – Superman, no less – who had ridden horses forever, and a freak accident took his body away. Two years after he died, his adoring, supportive wonderful wife died of lung cancer, and she never smoked a cigarette in her life.
I cancelled my horse-riding lesson and upped the schedule for walking my dog.
What was impressive about all of this?
1. Reeve’s friends were always there for him (in private and public). This included helping raise funds for spinal cord injury research, as well as getting him acting and directing work to help him pay for his own maintenance and living expenses.
2. Reeve himself never stopped working and bringing the spinal cord injury issue to the public. Here was a once strapping man who didn’t flinch to show his withered side in public, because he had a “cause.”
3. His lovely wife stood by him (something I brought up many times to women who called my radio program complaining about this or that about their husbands).
And my heart went out to his kids. One of them, Matthew Reeve, is now 20, a Brown University graduate who has organized various events and appearances for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which supports programs and research for spinal cord injury. This fall, honoring the five year anniversary of his father’s death, Matthew is running the New York City Marathon in hopes of raising more money for spinal cord injury research. The New York Times interviewed him, and one of his comments is particular important for you to read:
”I’m constantly grateful and appreciative of being able to do the simplest, most basic functions, and the fact that I have good health and can move normally. That’s something I’ve been more aware of and grateful for since the age of 15 than most people. There is a sense of, well, I can and I should.”
I was so taken by his comment: “I can and I should.” When you can, you owe something back. So for all of you out there, think about what it is you can, and therefore should do. Think hard…and then do it.