03/07/2006 04:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Dana Reeve Taught Us

As most of you have surely heard by now, the late Christopher Reeve's loving widow, Dana, passed on late last night.

She is to be praised and humanistically beatified for giving up her career when he received his tragic injury, staying by his side, and making his cause and heroism her own. In addition to all the quiet moments standing with the man she loved, stem-cell research to help against paralysis became her advocacy and passion.

But although I didn't know either Dana or Chris, I am sure that her advocacy and passion for stem cell research was not only informed by the hope that her husband and partner in life would one day walk again.

Even though Dana and Chris had resources available to them that so many of the ill and injured do not, I believe they -- and later she -- fought for far more.

For they saw and felt a wider calling.

Perhaps in their beautiful souls, if not in their conscious minds, they knew about those in your town.

They knew about the woman in that house you pass by every day on the way to the supermarket. That house with window shades drawn, where the sealed windows protect the world against the muffled moans of intractable pain from the one whose bone or uterine cancer cannot be treated. Or as Dylan once sang in his greatest song "Chimes of Freedom," "the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed."

I once loved a woman like that. I once was a caregiver for a woman like that.

They knew about the seven-year-old in your neighborhood's elementary school classroom, the one that has to be fed through a feeding tube and was born with epilepsy so chronic that current-day drugs cannot stop.

I was the boyfriend of a special-ed teacher who used to come home distraught after a rough day working with these kids. A teacher who denied the Divine because she could not imagine the Divine allowing that to happen to a beautiful child.

And there are so many other caregivers out there. Some like the hospice nurse and professional caregiver, are paid, but they still cry when they come home, and weep when they get that call in the evening that someone in their care needs care no more.

And there are caregivers who care because they are united by blood. It could be you, exhausted after a day caring for an elderly parent who can no longer walk, see, remember who you are -- or perhaps all of that.

And then there are caregivers who care because they are united in, and by, love. I think of Dana and Chris. And all the others as well. Dana taught us how to love.

I am not an authority on stem-cell research, but if there is hope, we must try.

Dana Reeve taught us that, too.