Christopher Reeve’s and his wife Dana Reeve’s only son, William Reeve, talks about growing up after losing both of his parents.
When William was three years old, Christopher was paralyzed after being wounded in a horseback riding accident in 1995. He did not have a happy upbringing. “Because we couldn’t be spontaneous because he was paralyzed,” he recalls, “the fact that he was disabled did create its own set of obstacles.”
Despite being celebrities themselves, William says that his parents tried their best to remain “true to their values” and that he never felt “deprived of a normal childhood,” reports PEOPLE.
In an exclusive interview with People’s List on ABC, he revealed, “They were the people who told me to turn off the TV, to eat my broccoli, to go to bed.” He further added, “I understand that not every child experiences going to the grocery store and seeing their dad on the magazine at the checkout aisle, but … it was a totally normal childhood.”
William, on the other hand, hit rock bottom when tragedy struck and he lost both of his parents in the span of two years. Willian was 11 years old when Christopher died of heart failure in 2004, and Dana died of lung cancer in 2006.
In an open letter to his 13-year-old self, William wrote, “You’re at the lowest point of your life. You’re in a hospital room in New York City, and you’ve just said your final goodbye to Mom.” He added, “You’re 13. She’s 44. Lung cancer. Never smoked. Gone, just like Dad, who died a year-and-a-half ago, which at the time was the lowest you had been. Now you’re at a new bottom and you’re terrified and confused and just so sad,” per CBS News.
The actor still has good memories of his parents.
William recalls in his open letter, “You will always remember the good stuff. Dad in the driveway teaching you how to ride a bike just by telling you what to do, you trusting him so fully that you just do it. Mom’s singing voice filling the air with sweetness at home and in the car to school.”
“There’s nowhere to go but up, and that’s precisely where you’re heading,” William said in his open letter, describing what occurs once one reaches a low point.
Life had a way of lifting him out of that dark period in his life. William was adopted by his neighbors and grew up to be a successful sports journalist. Most significantly, he is continuing his parents’ critical work in the search for a cure for spinal cord injuries and providing care for paralyzed people. He and his half-siblings, Matthew and Alexandra Reeve, have been carrying on their parents’ legacy through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
William told PEOPLE, “I think his legacy is never going to go away and think that is a responsibility that I feel, to carry his and my mother’s legacy on for the rest of my life and hopefully beyond that.” He added, “I think that the foundation is one way, one tangible way, that his legacy and my mom’s legacy will always live on. And I think the way that I, and my siblings, live our lives is another way.”
Cover Image Source: Will Reeve/Instagram & Getty Images/Matthew Peyton