Reeves Remained in Love Despite Tragedy

ByABC News via via logo

March 8, 2006 — -- Dana Reeve was 25 when actor Christopher Reeve spotted her singing at a late-night cabaret show. She never knew that night would change the course of her whole life.

"I was performing in this late-night cabaret where the actors perform after hours," she said in an interview with "Good Morning America" a little over a year ago. "It's always a raucous good time, and I got up and I sang "The Music That Makes Me Dance." And I have a friend. … She was sitting near Chris, and she said, 'I knew the definition of thunderstruck.'"

On Monday, Reeve, 44, died from lung cancer. Her husband died from complications due to paralysis in 2004.

Singing was always a part of their lives together. Reeve sang "This Pretty Planet" to comfort the "Superman" star when he was unconscious after a horseback-riding accident three years into their marriage.

The couple said the accident was a crossroads for them, when their love took on a new meaning.

"When I first was coming out of, you know, unconsciousness and you have the thought 'Maybe it's not worth everybody's trouble,' I suggested, 'Maybe I should just check out, '" Christopher Reeve said on "20/20" in September 1995. "And then Dana said to me, 'You're still you, and I love you.'"

"When it's actually the person you love, the person you know and there's no head injury, no brain damage," she said then. "It's him. It's the essence of him, and that's what I said to him. I said, 'It's you.'"

Until then, their life together with their 3-year-old son, Will, had been joyful. He is now 13.

"Chris actually used to say every day for the first year or so that we were married, every day he would say, 'Gosh, I love being married. I love it,'" Dana Reeve said.

After the May 1995 accident, joy turned into gratitude.

"We've now transcended into something where our moments together are even more valuable than they ever were. Dana has not missed one day in the 12 weeks, driving often three hours a day just to come be with me," Christopher Reeve said shortly after the accident.

"And I would not be where I am today with the positive outlook that I have and the sense of real hope and purpose, if it were not for Dana."

Dana Reeve stayed by her husband's side throughout his difficult physical therapy. Sometimes she would exercise his arms and legs herself. They struggled to find a cure for paralysis, testifying before Congress and holding fund-raisers.

And they remained close.

'We're as physical with each other as we can be," Dana Reeve said on "The View" in 2002. "And we're as close as we can be. As you notice, I don't know many couples who have been together for 15 years who do sit hand in hand. Or who, I mean, we kiss all the time."

"I see, I see couples married as long where they don't touch each other," she said.

"I made a vow to Chris when we married that I would love him, and I would be with him, in sickness and in health, and I did OK with that," she said in 2004. "But there's another vow that I need to amend today. I promised to love, honor and cherish him till death do us part, well I can't do that. Because I will love, honor and cherish him forever."

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