Actor Christopher Reeve, known for his role as Superman, died in 2004 nine years after he was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident. Dana Reeve died from lung cancer just a year-and-a-half later.
Will Reeve, now 26, discusses overcoming such tremendous grief at a young age, pursuing a career in sports journalism and continuing his parents' work to cure paralysis. In a note to his 13-year-old self, he says there's nowhere to go but up after his lowest point.
I've got good news and bad news. I'll start with the bad, because you always need to know exactly what's going on, no matter what. That won't change, by the way. The bad news is: 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.
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.
But! Here's the good news: this is the low point. There's nowhere to go but up, and that's exactly where you're headed.
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.
How lucky are you that in her final moments, when she finally had to accept that she was dying, Mom knew where to put you? She signed you over to the Pucci's, your next-door neighbors, your second family and now your adoptive family. You'll move in with them and love them as fiercely and fully as they love you.
There will be times when you will feel lost. You will feel insecure, less about the braces and the bad haircut you have now and more about the choices you make, the direction of your career, missteps in relationships and social settings, but don't worry.
You'll keep playing sports and singing in musicals and you'll get good grades and make great friends and you'll feel encouraged, supported and loved.
You love to write and it will be essential at your dream job, reporting and anchoring at ESPN, where you promised mom and dad you would work one day. When you get that call, you'll want to call them and tell them the great news and of course, you can't, but you know that they already know.
To millions of people, they embody love and loyalty, commitment and courage, perseverance and hope. You'll make them proud by honoring your family name, not by using it for special treatment but by living a life worthy of its legacy.
Some days, like when you join the board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, you'll feel like you're doing a great job. Other times, like when your work-play balance gets a little too skewed toward fun, or you're lazy or rude or selfish, you'll feel nothing but shame.
It sounds simple and clichéd, but just be you. Because you are what will make mom and dad most proud. Every moment you spent with them, they were preparing you for a life without them. You have their values and Mom's eyes and Dad's smile.
I want you to know that we do not have all of this figured out. But you know that in the years ahead, you will face no obstacle greater than the one you are starting to overcome right now, and no matter which way your journey leads, mom and dad will be there with you every step of the way. How lucky are you?