Sad, sad news: Dana Reeve dies
This extremely sad news greeted me when I went to Yahoo to check my email today: "Christopher Reeve's Widow Dies at Age 44."
I can't say I followed the entire saga of the Reeve family all that closely, but I certainly knew the basic facts, and I knew that Dana Reeve was diagnosed with lung cancer not that long after her husband's death, and that they had a young child. When I read the news today of her death, my first thought was of him and how much profound tragedy he's had to deal with already in his young life.
Yes, his parents loved him, and yes, they gave him an example of extraordinary courage in their all-too-shortened lives. I'm sure there are relatives who will take him in, and his mother certainly had a lot of time to plan for that and to prepare him as best she could.
But something like this cannot be prepared for, not really.
I know there are worse tragedies on the face of the earth than this, but this one is bad enough. Having watched the family over the years, and admired the classy bravery of this woman, it made my stomach sink when I read the news.
On another note, notice the article's repeated insistence on the fact that Dana was not a smoker, despite her lung cancer. This seemed important to the writer to state, and I suppose it is.
But I sense a certain subtle subtext here: the notion that we might somehow control our health if we just do it right, if we follow all the rules. There's a certain smugness, and a whistling in the dark--because of course, as in the old clichés, no one gets out of here alive, and shit happens. Do only the good die young? No, of course not. But we certainly notice it when they do.
And we like to think we have more control over things than is the case. Yes, indeed, smoking is a huge cause of lung cancer, and I applaud everyone who manages to quit and discourage anyone from starting. But it's not easy for lifelong smokers to stop, not at all.
I have perhaps a special interest in this story because I have a female relative who is currently fighting lung cancer, a woman in her fifties who smoked a long time ago and quit a long time ago, with only the occasional cigarette in recent decades. What category does she fall into: smoker, nonsmoker, hybrid? I refuse to condemn her in any way, or blame her. I simply offer her my love, my prayers, my support, and my hope that she licks this thing.