Today I watched a TV show that got me thinking about Christopher Reeve. Or, to be more precise, thinking about one of the most extraordinary demonstrations of love that I have ever seen.
Back in my theatre days, I spent a summer as an intern at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. It was an incredible place to be – filled with energy and vitality and very little sleep. There were also a lot of stars and soon-to-be stars walking around the campus every day. One of those luminaries was Dana Reeve, who had met her husband Christopher Reeve at Williamstown about 10 years earlier. They had married at the festival, and even after his paralysis, they tried to return “home” as often as possible. That summer she performed in a female ensemble drama on the Nikos Stage.
Every once in a while, we interns would have the opportunity to go to a late-night cabaret featuring the stars of the festival. One night in particular remains in my mind – Christopher and Dana Reeve were there at a table set up especially for them to accommodate Mr. Reeves wheelchair. Before and after the show, as well as during intermissions, their table was crowded with friends and well-wishers. It seemed that everyone in the room wanted to be in the reflected glow of this amazing man. Even paralyzed he had a magnetism that was impossible to ignore.
I was at a table across the room. I never spoke to them but I found myself watching them quite intently, often unable to tear my eyes away from the beauty that was unfolding before me.
Throughout those several hours, I watched as Mr. and Mrs. Reeve were buffeted in many directions, to many conversations, often holding completely separate conversations – and yet, they were always touching. In that entire evening, with the exception of the few minutes that Mrs. Reeve was on stage singing, her hand was always touching her husband. Whether she was holding his hand, touching his shoulder, or stroking his hair, she maintained a physical contact with him that was so effortlessly adoring that it was breathtaking. Never once did she let go of this man that she loved, even though he couldn’t touch her back.
The love that passed between them – through their eyes, their touch, and their words – was obvious even from across the room. Even in the face of great adversity, their adoration shone through.
When I think of demonstrations of great love, that is always the first one that comes to my mind. It was quiet, gentle, and almost invisible; but having noticed it, it was impossible to ignore or to forget.
Someday I hope to experience that kind of love (minus the tragic circumstances, of course.) I wish that for each and every one of us. That kind of love is a miracle.