Christopher Reeve, R*I*P


September 25, 1952 - October 10, 2004

I still believe a Man can Fly!
My Hero died yesterday! Back in 1992, DC Comics was faced with waning interest in one of their flagship titles, featuring, in fact, the first ever Superhero, Superman. The bright idea was to kill him off and remind everyone how much they missed him, only to bring him back in a way that was neither contrived, nor predictable, nor ridiculous. It was no small task, but it worked. To this day I have above my bed a framed poster of Superman's tombstone with the inscription "Here Lies Earth's Greatest Hero!" (in fact a none-too-subtle comment on mine own ego). But with all the great creators of Superman, who shaped his Mythos throughout the years, one of the most major contributors, was the actor Christopher Reeve, a man who made us both believe that a man could fly, and that a bumbling goof could get the girl! And to us... He was truly super!

There Goes My Hero!
This is me with Reeve's tribute at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California...
I'm the Comic Book Geek in the Front!
It was right around Christmas, 1978, I was only four years old, but I got this movie. Richard Donner's Superman was no cartoon, and it was no silly bif-bam-boom live action substitute for a cartoon! There was a guy on that movie screen, and he was flying! We couldn't get over it! This was Real! Not even Luke Skywalker or Han Solo could actually fly! Even when our parents decided to tell us "how they did it" we neither believed the relative "science fiction" of "Blue Screens" nor did we care! Christopher Reeve was Superman... and Superman could FLY!

Well, Superheroes live forever, but not so little boys! Sure after a time, one incredibly great sequel, and two lackluster follow-ups, we knew the real score, and Superman was just a character that this Juilliard-trained actor played back when we were four! Right?

Well, Right?

Maybe the "damage" was done because every time I saw the actor, Christopher Reeve, I thought of the hero that could save Lois Lane from falling to her death, catch a helicopter in the other hand, rescue the President's plane from an electrical storm, reverse time, and still have a minute to rescue your kitten from a tree. If I was watching Somewhere in Time, Deathtrap, or The Remains of the Day there was still a four year old in my mind smiling and thinking of that Red Cape flapping in time with the Flag of Old Glory he held aloft with respect.

It was Christopher Reeve, in that Idealistically colorful Superman Costume, that defined Hero to my best buddy and I, and after he traded in the tights, he was no less "Hero" to us!

It was impossible that on May 27, 1995, the super Christopher Reeve experienced a riding accident and became paralyzed from the Neck Down. Even my friend Sara became depressed when seeing my Superman tomb stone because, to her as well, Christopher Reeve was Superman!

How can this be? Don't Superheroes live forever? I suppose the answer is a big Yes, because Reeve, the man, did indeed become a hero, visiting various nations around the world, and becoming a model to millions with Spinal Chord injuries. He even lobbied Congress for better insurance and for Stem Cell Research, and inspired the paralized, his fellow actors, and yeah, people like me all over the world! Did he make a difference? He did! Did we believe in him? We did! And when he swore that he would walk again, I personally believed! This is the man who convinced me that a Man could Fly! He had traded his cape for a wheel chair and his Lex Luthor for ignorance and apathy, and Reeve still was "Hero" to me!

But my Hero died yesterday! As with many quadriplegics, Reeve experienced complications from Pressure Wound that became infected and caused him to face a Cardiac Arrest. What followed was a coma, and finally, death. Christopher Reeve was 52 years old.

It's a sad, sad day for so many of us thinking of what could have been. However, the mark Reeve made on us during his life is far from miniscule. He went from Superman to Super Man, and in acting and activism, he's not going to be forgotten! In many ways, I'm still right... Superheroes do live forever, one way or the other! My framed poster of the tombstone of Superman means something different today... but I still believe that a man can fly, and, yes, I still believe that a paralized man can walk again. This is a hard memorial to write, and I'm still surprised to find tears in my eyes, but I thought it would help to write about it. If I'm writing a sad, emotional article, please forgive me... you see... my Hero died yesterday!

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J.C.: Today is a hard day for me... My Hero died yesterday. I wrote this brief memorial for him:
Tracy: Absolutely beautiful!!!
J.C.: I didn't think I was going to cry, but I cried this morning and I cried the whole time I was writing it... I mean... tears on the cheeks...
I'm still that smiling 4 year old once in a while...
(Please no jokes about the once in a while part)
Tracy: No jokes here.....that's why we're friends! :-)
J.C.: Definitely! He was such a big influence on me, really my whole life. It makes me so sad because... I really believed he could walk again! I really did!
Tracy: Me too....he was so close.I'm sorry for your loss, heck it's a loss for us all!
J.C.: It really really is... but as you saw in my article, I'm celebrating the big mark his life left on us... only 10% has anything to do with his death!
Tracy: Well I loved your piece! Perfection....a fitting tribute and celebration! J.C.: Thanks, amiga! I respect your opinion!
Leslie: How's it going this fine Monday morning?
J.C.: Not too well...
Leslie: This is a wonderful tribute, JC. I was so bummed to hear the news this morning. It wasn't too long ago when I heard him speak about how he believed he will one day walk again. Very sad.
J.C.: Thanks! I believed as well! He was my hero! I thought you might like the article. Though I cried a lot this morning, and especially when I wrote this, you'll notice that the article is about the impact his life had in so many ways! Only 10% has to do with his death.
He's in Heaven now, and in Heaven a man can fly!

John: Nice picture from the wax museum!
J.C.: So you think the article sucked?
John: No, it was good. I just feel bad about my Superman jokes the last couple Wednesdays! Boooooo
J.C:Don't Please don't He's in Heaven now, and in Heaven everyone has a sense of humor because there's no pain in heaven, sir!
John: That is true. And he can walk in Heaven.
J.C.: And fly! Thanks, man!
J.C:You know two things about me more than most do 1) I am a little over-emotional sometimes for a hetero and 2) I have a memory that's nearly intimidating.
I wrote an obituary chronicling the influence of Christopher Reeve on me, and in doing so I realized that a lot of the old influences involved you and Rick.
I never mention either of you by name, out of respect, but when I refer to "We" in this article, you're half of it. Keep in mind also, this is still the old sci-fi-comic book nerd writing this, and it will probably come across as rather sappy and silly to you, but I still wanted you to see it.
Jeff: Good article. I was pretty saddened by his passing also.
On Wednesday Rick will have been gone for 8 years. He usually starts making appearance in my dreams around this time. It's always comforting to see his face and feel his presence again even it's only in my subconscious. It's nice to know that a part of my brain holds onto it and never lets it fade or distort with time.
J.C.: You and I grew up in so many ways, like cousins, and I hope you understand that I think about Rick every day! I have similar issues with him popping up in dreams. You had many more experiences with him, good and bad, and I know I'm not a "Member of the Family" but I have so much to think about on him. This is another reason that I didn't include names.
Back then the three of us would play with Baseball Cards or action figures, or Football figurines... and I remember so distinctly, the three of us were talking about Batman and Superman while we listened to the Superman the Movie Soundtrack!
For some reason none of the three of us could think of the name of Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego, but Rick was SURE... Absolutely SURE of what Superman's real name was...
He told us both it was Dick Clark!
It still makes me smile. I tell stories like those to your mother (because once in a while she asks for them) and they sort of give me a connection to Rick that lasts on. I don't think I've ever told you about this sort of thing sober, but I still do think about him probably every day. I hope that's okay, man! You know I'd never, ever want to tell you something that makes you uncomfortable, especially on such a subject!
Jeff: I understand and appreciate it. I didn't remember the Dick Clark thing. That's hilarious.
J.C.: I've got a lot of those memories of Rick... He was always funny, even when he was sort of bullying us. Let's plan to get together in the next year or so and have some more meaningful deep moments... And if that sounded gay, it wasn't intentional!
Jeff: ok sweetie