Monday, October 11, 2004


Funeral For A Friend

After September 11, a strange thought kept going through my head: if only we had superheroes. The attacks could have been prevented, or at least more lives could have been saved, if we'd seen the Justice League, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, even the Authority, on the scene.

That friday, I got together with Chris and Angie, and we watched the special edition DVD of Superman: The Movie. It was just the thing to get me out of my funk. A welcome burst of primary-colored heroism, in a world where, let's face it, we need such things.

I hadn't seen the movie in years, except in a heavily chopped-up TV edit, and I had never realized before how much humanity Christopher Reeve brought to such a potentially silly character. Think of the scene where Clark Kent comes to Lois Lane's apartment for dinner, before taking off and treating her to a date with Superman. At one point, while Lois has her back turned, Clark considers spilling his secret to her; he takes off his glasses. His voice deepens by a clear octave. He grows a foot, it seems. We watch a man transform, and suddenly we understand how Clark was able to throw so many people off. And this is without any effects--that's all Reeve.

And from that moment on, we DO believe a man can fly. Even in the later ones, when Superman was playing second fiddle to Richard Pryor or burdened by campy slapstick, the man, contractually indentured to the series, somehow maintained his dignity.

And it was a dignity he held even after becoming paralyzed in a riding accident. Not only did he adapt to his new situation, he spearheaded stem cell research for spinal cord injuries; in recent years, he was able to move one finger and even breathe without a respirator. Hell, we believed he could fly, so of course we believed he would one day stand up from his wheelchair and walk again.

Christopher Reeve died sunday.

Heroes don't wear a cape. The full effect of their heroism is seldom felt in their lifetime.

Someday, thanks to the attention Reeve brought to spinal cord injury, people who would have been paralyzed for life will move. They will walk, maybe someday they will fly.

Superman lives.

A great man's spirit uplifts others as it finds itself rising into the ether.

May we all be regarded by our loved ones so.

Life IS what you make it, and Reeve was a man who made it great.
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