The Toughest Call: Love After Tragedy

Freedom on two wheels — it's a common fascination for boys growing up in America. Keith Cavill was attracted to motocross racing. But, one day, four years ago, something terrible happened.

"All I remember was coming up off the jump, starting to dip forward, and realizing I'm not going to be able to land," Cavill said.

Cavill was rushed to the hospital after the motocross accident, and, after several surgeries, received devastating news — he would never walk again.

By his side, as his new reality began to sink in, was his girlfriend of two years, Christine Coppa. She remembers that tragic day vividly.

"When I got to the hospital ... it was one of the scariest things I'd ever seen. He was in traction, he had these two metal rods coming out of the side of his head. It reminded me of something like Frankenstein," Coppa said. "I loved him and I wanted to do anything that I could to help."

And help she did, in hospital rooms and rehabilitation centers as the months stretched on.

"I diapered him, I cleaned accidents off, I fed him through a feeding tube, I dressed him, I showered him. I did everything imaginable," Coppa said.

Cavill was finally able to come home ten months after the accident. Coppa was there to greet him, but was thinking of leaving him, because the relationship became something very different after Cavill's accident. Coppa says she felt more like a friend and nurse, and not a romantic girlfriend.

"Things changed between us, and I didn't want to pretend for the rest of my life. I didn't want to wake up one day, 40 years old, being like, where did my life go?" she said.

Helping to make the decision to leave Cavill was the fact that Coppa's father was diagnosed with cancer at the same time. She spent a lot of late nights in hospitals, and her whole life had become care giving.

Coppa made her toughest call long before she found the courage to tell Cavill, but he had different plans for the future.

"I could see myself spending the rest of my life with her," he said.

Coppa didn't know how to tell Cavill about the tough decision she had made. She was afraid of how he would take it, and was consumed with guilt.

"I couldn't imagine walking away from someone in a wheelchair," she said.

While Coppa struggled with her difficult decision, Cavill was exposed to something that made men in wheelchairs seem macho and in control.

As featured in the documentary "Murderball," Cavill met members of the United States Quad Rugby team at New Jersey's Kessler Rehabilitation Institute. Wheelchair rugby would open a new world for him.

"It was a life changing moment," Cavill remembered.

Cavill's new sense of excitement and confidence was just the opening Coppa had been waiting for. The moment finally arrived to tell him she was leaving.

"I was just like, I can't do this anymore. I just said it, and I don't think I meant to say it out loud, but I did, and he heard me," she said.

At first, Cavill was angry, and felt like Coppa was leaving him at his most vulnerable time. But, he now says it was the best thing that could have happened.

"I turned that anger toward her for leaving into motivation to say, 'hey, this is my life,'" he said.

Cavill feels the breakup allowed him to learn how to take care of himself, and become more independent. His life now centers around honing his wheelchair rugby skills. And, he's got a new girlfriend.

Coppa turned her breakup with Cavill into an article for Glamour magazine. She's now a freelance writer, and has a new baby.

Looking back, Cavill only wishes Coppa the best.

"We've made the peace ... if I could say anything to her, it would be ... I wish her health and happiness," he said.

For more information, click here to read Christine Coppa's Glamour article or visit Keith Cavill's website at http://mytruestoryproductions.com/.

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