Cover image for Care packages : letters to Christopher Reeve from strangers and other friends
Care packages : letters to Christopher Reeve from strangers and other friends
Reeve, Dana.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 165 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2287.R292 A4 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in a riding accident in 1995, the world was captivated by his struggle to survive, in the years since, he and his wife Dana have become major public figures -- he, delivering key speeches at national political events, earning Emmys for his brilliant directorial debut; she, appearing on television and on Broadway; together, creating a major charitable foundation for those with spinal cord injuries. How have they found the strength and inspiration to do what they are doing?To an astounding degree, they have found it in the thousands of letters, telegrams, e-mails, and cards that poured in from around the world when the news broke that Chris was gravely injured. From the legendary Katherine Hepburn, whose note is the very essence of her style ("Golly, what a mess!) to the series of letters from President Clinton, to the housewives and bankers and mechanics who saw in Chris and Dana their own struggles writ large, and who offered up their own hard-earned wisdom in an unforgettable gesture of hope and community.With great intelligence, charm, and grace, Dana Reeve takes us into the boxes of correspondence which have helped her family weather this ordeal. These letters, along with Dana's own story, create a rich and unforgettable tableaux of the triumph of the human spirit.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

By the third week after the riding accident that rendered him paraplegic, actor Christopher Reeve had received 35,000 pieces of mail, and the stream of cards, letters, and packages, though naturally tapering down, kept coming. Reeve's wife, Dana, selects from that postal tidal wave and presents her choices in thematic chapters, such as "Overcoming Adversity" and "Cures and Recommendations," interspersed with smaller gatherings of recollections from correspondents who knew or had met the actor. Dana contributes an introductory note for each chapter and a handwritten final word to her husband. A handful of photos of Reeve before the accident, photos sent with well-wishes, and some famous-name notes (e.g., those from President Clinton, Paul McCartney, and Penn and Teller) make appropriate illustrations. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Letters that helped Christopher Reeve survive his crippling accident, blended with commentary from his wife. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



IN THE BEGINNING There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is. --Albert Einstein On May 27, 1995, our life was, in an instant, inexplicably, unalterably changed. It was Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, at a few minutes past 3:00 when my husband, an experienced rider, fell from his horse while jumping a fairly routine fence and sustained a spinal-cord injury. Chris was paralyzed from the chest down and unable to breathe. As he was thrown from his horse, we, as a family, were thrown into a world we had only glimpsed as passersby: a world of loss and suffering, hospitals and emergencies. We left an able-bodied existence full of privilege and ease and entered into a life of disability, with all its accompanying restrictions and challenges. We went from the "haves" to the "have-nots." Or so we thought. What we had yet to discover were all the gifts that come out of sharing hardship, the hidden pleasures behind the pain, the simple joys revealed when the more obvious treats and diversions that life has to offer are taken away. Something miraculous and wonderful happened amidst terrible tragedy, and a whole new dimension of life began to emerge. All over the country and the world people began to respond to Chris's injury. Letters started pouring into the mailroom at the University of Virginia Medical Center, where Chris was being treated. Thousands of letters a week. Some from friends, former classmates, people we knew, but most from complete strangers--fans who wanted to let Chris know that they cared, or those who had shared a chance encounter with him at some time in their lives. Children sent drawings and letters in droves, worried about Superman and wishing him well. Many of the notes relayed stories of individuals whose lives had been changed by a similar injury or another type of great loss. The letters offered us comfort, humor, perspective, advice, strength, and the welcome reminder that we were not alone. We had dear friends and strangers alike pulling for us. The overwhelming response to Chris's accident became a phenomenon in and of itself. The sheer bulk of mail was astonishing. By our third week at UVA, workers at the Charlottesville post office estimated that they had processed thirty-five thousand pieces of mail for Christopher Reeve. The letters came from all over, as varied in style and content as in point of origin. Some were flown from distant countries, their envelopes plastered with colorful stamps, while stacks of penciled notes from local schools, tied with ribbon, were delivered by hand. There were long, flowery missives sent in elaborately decorated envelopes and simple, dime-store "Get Well" cards with "Superman, USA" the only address. Ultimately, we would receive at least one letter from each of the fifty states and from over a dozen countries. And they kept on coming. As a family, we opened letter after letter and separated them by subject. Chris's brother Benjamin typed out a sheet that listed different categories and posted it in the room at the hospital where we received all the mail. Relatives or friends who happened to be visiting at the time could refer to this guide as they slit open envelopes to pass the time, in between visits to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We shared the letters with one another and spent hours reading them to Chris. The letters provided solace and became a source of strength for me. I used them as tools to elevate my mood or fortify my spirit to face another day. I could go to the pile of letters marked "Funny" if I needed a laugh, or to the "Injuries" box to find tales of miraculous recoveries or, even better, advice from people in wheelchairs or on ventilators living happy, fulfilled lives. When we left Virginia, after a month, to go to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey, the boxes of letters, faxes, drawings, and gifts came with us. And still, the mail kept coming. We set up an even more elaborate mail room that Chris's mother supervised with the help of many volunteers. While Chris and I spent our days with neurologists, physiatrists, pulmonologists, physical therapists--every "ist" in the book--learning about his care, others worked upstairs, sitting among the mountains of boxes, opening envelope after envelope. "Dear Christopher . . . ," "Dearest Chris . . . ," "My dear Mr. Reeve . . . ," or, simply, "Superman . . ." There were times when I tried to explain the phenomenon to friends or colleagues, but I could tell they didn't really get it. The sheer quantity of mail, the consistent growth of it, the simple notion of it--that people really do feel the urge to reach out, to comfort, to share . . . and then act on that urge, actually do the reaching--was hard to believe. One had to see it. It was around this time that I got the idea of putting together a book. These letters, I realized, needed to be shared. Excerpted from Care Packages: Letters to Christopher Reeve from Strangers and Other Friends by Dana Reeve All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.