Last winter Christopher Reeve told me about an exciting film project on which he was working. It’s the inspiring story of Brooke Ellison who was struck by a car on her way home from school, on the first day of seventh grade.
The accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, and dependent on a respirator. Chris knows the territory.
Yesterday he told me that he just finished the film last week. It will be shown on A&E on Monday night, October 25, at 8 p.m.
Ten years after that tragic day in 1990 Brooke graduated from Harvard, with honors, and with her mother at her side. Indeed, the Brooke Ellison Story is about the relationship between her and her mother, Jean. Graduating from college was a goal which she achieved with her mother’s dedicated help.
There’s a famous Biblical verse that says, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”
That passage from I Corinthians 13 is the most frequently read verse for weddings: “Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on having its own way. It is not irritable or resentful and it does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices only in what is right. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I’ve watched that kind of love being lived out between Chris and Dana Reeve. No wonder he was excited about making this film. In a very real way it’s autobiographical, just as all good writing and honest speaking is a way of telling one’s own story.
I have officiated at hundreds of wedding ceremonies where the couple promise ‘to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy.’ More and more, as the years go by, I realize the depth of meaning behind those vows. The wedding day is always filled with a sense of optimism, of confidence and hope. As a couple says ‘in sickness and in health’ my mind flashes to so many couples at whose weddings I’ve officiated for the past 34 years, and I wonder what this couple will face—what sickness or accident they will have to endure.
One of the great gifts of ministry has been the opportunity to be with people as they move through the triumphs and tragedies of life. No one has been more of an inspiration to me than Christopher Reeve. About the struggles of life I’ve often said, “We have to do it for ourselves, but we can’t do it by ourselves.” There’s no better example of someone doing it forhimself, while freely acknowledging that he couldn’t do it by himself.
I’m looking forward to The Brooke Ellison story and to sharing more of your story in the days and years ahead: ‘in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy.’ Take care.