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Christopher Reeve's Children: Love Isn't About the Hugs

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Video courtesy Good Morning America
In the aftermath of the accident that left him paralyzed, Christopher Reeve and his family found a new way to love that didn’t rely on physical affection, two of his grown children said Tuesday.

“We quickly learned that being a family isn’t about the physical connections,” Alexandra Reeve, 23, said on Good Morning America. “It’s not about the hugs. For us, it wasn’t about the physical activities, even though they’d been so much a part of our family life for so long. We realized that a family can still be there for one another just by voices, by loving one another and by sharing moments together. And physical ability isn’t a requisite for that.”

The family had always enjoyed sailing, skiing, biking and hiking together. But Matthew Reeve, 27, said redrawing the lines was the only option after his father’s 1995 horse-riding accident.

“Dad very nearly didn’t survive the accident, so just having him there and being able to talk to him was gift enough,” he said. “You’ve got to focus on what you have and not on what you don’t have.”

Reeve, who died in 2004, had three children – Matthew and Alexandra with longtime partner Gae Exton, and Will, who is now 15, with wife Dana Reeve. All three kids are carrying on their father’s fight to find a cure for paralysis. (Dana died of lung cancer in March 2006.)

Matthew Reeve has just completed a documentary about his father’s recovery, Hope in Motion, which has its DVD release this week. “Nothing has ever gone into this much detail or just let him show his feelings,” he recently told PEOPLE about the film.

Alexandra Reeve said Tuesday that the major lesson of that recovery was the importance of staying optimistic and energized in the face of tragedy.

“The amazing thing that we learned from Dad and Dana,” she said, “was just to focus on the positive, and instead of focusing on what we were missing, just to look at what we did have and what we could still do together as a family.”