Requiem for a Heavyweight
His acting gave him prominence.
His accident gave him purpose.
And for nine years he turned his misfortune to society's benefit. For some he was a crusader, for others he was an example. A reminder that the worst of circumstances can be turned to good if one has faith and courage.
He was a good actor, but he was a great man.
And today Christopher Reeve walks again. In a coming day, he will dance with his wife once more and forever, whole and eternal. He has left behind the realm of broken bodies and limited abilities and gone where our spirits go to await the great getting up day.
Christopher Reeve has done his duty.
And that wasn't stem cell research, or maybe even spinal cord injury. It was to teach character. To remind people of the sheer power of optimism, cheerfulness, courage and faith. To show that the potential of the human heart is endless, and that however great the trial, the soul's capacity is just a little bit more.
He was Superman, and the irony of his flaccid body was tragic and purposeful. The man of steel had become the man of weakness, his tall and muscular body taken from him, left a mere burden to be observed and overcome.
He wanted to die, and then he learned how to live. He learned patience and humility, and became greater for it. From pretty boy to learned man, from partier to prophet, from time to eternity.
God must have loved him a lot.
He had a dream, and it didn't come true. At least not the way he wanted. Yet the dream was his salvation and grace.
He wanted to walk. To bridge the gap of severed cord and stand upright again. To run and breathe and laugh aloud. To step out of the chair and go forward, in every way, to go where he wanted to go.
Yet he never left the chair.
He didn't stand up and walk.
Though he soared midst the sun and the stars.
He stood taller reclining than most men could ever dream, and moved the world with his motionless arms. All there was was his spirit, that him that was just him, the essence of the man in the chair. And that spirit was divine enough and human enough to be heard and felt, to lead from a position of weakness, to roar with his whispery voice.
And his courage was sufficient and more.
To sustain him and to inspire others, to go on ahead with the colors raised high, a general in a battle on earth. It wasn't really the activism, or the publicity, the testifying or talking. It was simply the being. The surviving and flourishing, the superman to be followed. The superman to be emulated. A come on and follow me kind of guy for the people whose fates were like his.
And for the people whose fates weren't.
The people who life kicked in the head. Whose jobs went away or whose wives went away or whose health collapsed in a heap. The people who knew catastrophe and loss and the cold kiss of impossibility.
He was good for them and he was good for us because we instinctively look for his kind. For the ones who have gotten it worse but taken it better, the ones who make us say, If he can do it, so can I.
That's what Christopher Reeve was.
He was a leader.
And the purpose of his life came with the crippling of his life, the end was the reason for the beginning and God had it planned from the start.
For him, in part, but mostly for us.
He did what all of us should, be the most your circumstances allow, be all your dreams demand.
And now he's free. His duty done, his mission changed. Gathered home to the God who sent him. Who heard his cries and saw his tears and taught him peace and strength.
We all hope to make a difference, and some actually do.
Christopher Reeve was one of those.
And we should be, too.
Because it is not enough to recognize the good and great, it is necessary as well to follow them. You don't march the same path, but you take the same strides, and do good where and how you can.
We are not called to build monuments to Christopher Reeve, we are called to pick up where he left off. To set examples of courage and faith in the circles of our influence and friends.
He played Superman, and he really was.
by Bob Lonsberry © 2004
-courtesy of Sam Schmidt