Goodbye to a real life hero–Follow-Up

Editor’s note: Scott Napolitano attended a speech by Christopher Reeve on Sept. 29, and wrote about his experience in the Oct. 6 issue of The Signal. Below, he shares his reaction to the actor’s recent death.

I’ve been told that your childhood ends when one of your heroes passes away and you wake up the next day feeling that much older. I can confirm this with the passing of Christopher Reeve. Having only seen him two weeks ago, his death came as a total shock. While I am sad that he is no longer with us, I feel proud to have known him and to be able to pass on his wisdom as part of his legacy to future generations.

Upon hearing he had died, I received numerous e-mails, phone calls and instant messages with expressions of consolation. I had never taken a celebrity’s death so close to heart, but this time it was different – I was one of the last people to have the gift of hearing him speak.

Never in my mind did I think he would fall short of his goal of walking again. But time took its toll and on Oct. 10, he was gone.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a while was to go to WTSR to do my radio show and immediately read a story about his passing. What struck me the most was a quote saying doctors said Reeve lived as long as could be expected for someone in his situation. Having listened to the man talk with utter disdain about limitations and doctors’ edicts, I knew upon reading the story that he would have hated to have heard that.

Reeve, who grew up in Princeton, was more than just an actor. This was a man who would come to embody the traits of the character he once portrayed. He will be forever linked to the character of Superman. In my mind, it’s a noble comparison, since Reeve fought tirelessly to show us the truth about paralysis, to bring justice to those in need and to give hope to the downtrodden.

Reeve may have claimed to be an ordinary man – but sometimes a hero is just an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. That is why Reeve was and will remain a hero in my eyes. Safe flight, Superman. We’ll miss you.