Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
no true hero sets out to be a hero. only the superheroes we see in movies are scripted. that’s why we love them and pay for the ticket. but a real hero is the one who christopher reeve said, “is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” that was unscripted. he did not plan for overwhelming obstacles. horrible accidents happen to people every day. what makes him a hero of mine is he turned what could have otherwise been merely a horrific ironic fate into a living legacy of good.
for starts, he established the christopher reeve foundation. he put a human celebrity face on spinal cord injury and then he motivated neuroscientists around the world for the first time to conquer the most complex diseases of the brain and central nervous system. and he didn’t let up. ae founded a separate “quality of life” organization with his wife, dana reeve, to raise awareness, funds and rights for the disabled. the conviction, determination and strength lived from his wheelchair were beyond the powers of a superman who originally was “ able to” leap tall buildings with a single bound with more power than a locomotive.” he was real. so real that his character was hard at times to wrap our imaginations around. and yet he didn’t go looking to be caped or canonized. no true hero sets out looking for that.
at the same time the marriage of chris and dana seemed a love story that could have boggled shakespeare’s brain had he tried to create it. chris was devoted to dana. he loved her and she him. i had the privilege of seeing it when i would see them together. in all of the days i knew Dana, never once did she complain, lose her smile, lose her sense of humor or her compassion for others. she would walk in a room and instantly you could feel her healing presence. and still, in their very real world, you knew they had to be having good days and not so good days. like the rest of us.
bob and lee woodruff who founded the bob woodruff foundation understand this kind of love as well. i wrote about them in my blog last week. they are another heroic love story to me. and as they wrote in their bestselling book ,”in an instant”. “and yet there are no perfect spouses either, just those who love each other enough to stand by for better or for worse. don’t be fooled: that kind of endurance is, perhaps, the greatest expression of love.”
there are countless other people who we do not hear about in the news or media practicing this expression of love in their daily lives with their spouses and partners. and children and friends. for chris reeve each seemingly tiny to us physical movement was a monumental achievement of love. love is an action. the big ones and the little ones. to that end, i ask that you take an action and explore their website. visit and learn and please donate if you are able.
we may meet the loves of our lives by accident. but loving another is no accident. this is one of the many things i have learned and continue to learn from chris and dana reeve. we won’t all be starting or need to start a foundation. but love can still be our foundation. it is our foundation.
i’d love to hear about yours.