Reeve lost his dad at 11 years old to a heart failure and two years later he lost his mother to lung cancer.
Grief at any age feels so tremendous to bear but it must be even more excruciatingly painful as a child. For Will Reeve, losing both his parents before his teenage years was an incredibly hard struggle. Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana's only son, Will, was just 11 years old when his famous Superman father died of heart failure in 2004. Just 9 years before the acclaimed actor became paralyzed after a horseback-riding accident in 1995. Dana Reeve took incredible care of her husband during that time but just a year and a half later after her husband's death, Dana died from lung cancer. Another heartbreaking tragedy for a young Will Reeve.
“They were the people who told me to turn off the TV, to eat my broccoli, to go to bed,” Will told PEOPLE. “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.” Speaking of his father who was a celebrity-turned-spinal cord injury advocate, Will said, “The fact that he was paralyzed did present its own set of challenges because we couldn’t be spontaneous. That could be difficult, but my parents did such a good job of staying true to their values that I never felt deprived of a normal childhood, even though my experiences, at face value, were inherently different from other children my age.” He added, "My dad was obsessed with finding a cure for spinal cord injury so that he might walk again; he truly believed that he would. That is what sustained him. I hope I make my parents proud. I try to do that every day and like to think they would be,” he shared.
Will still has fond memories of both his parents. In an open letter that the son wrote to his 13-year-old self, he said, as quoted by CBS News, "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."
Despite the good memories it's hard not to ignore what a low point it was to lose both his parents at such a young age. "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 wrote to his younger self in the same letter. "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."
And that's what he did. Along with his half-siblings, Matthew and Alexandra Reeve, Will has been continuing their legacy through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which aims to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and provide care for patients who are affected by paralysis. "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," the now 29-year-old news personality told PEOPLE. "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. And I think that his impact is felt by the millions of lives that he touched."