Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the shocking death of Princess Diana. It’s so hard to believe it’s been that many years.
In 1997 I was 37, my daughter was 8. When the news broke, I’ll admit it, I lost it. Completely. I came apart so emotionally that day, I scared my daughter. She’d never had someone die in her life up to that time and was unprepared for how I took it, how it effected a person.
There’s a lot about that day, and the next week until her burial, that I’ll never forget. I sat glued to my living room chair, watching the news 24/7. It was the lead story everywhere, every station, every channel whether it was cable or broadcast tv. What I remember most was the shock, the jaw dropping shock, the looks of utter befuddlement, that crossed anyone and everyone who was interviewed. No one could have predicted the loss of such an amazing, vital, beautiful person at such a young age from such a stupid event as a drunken driver.
One of the news broadcasters asked if we’d be as shocked and horrified as a people if she’d died from an illness, or been assassinated by a terrorist group. Why was it her death at the hands of someone not in control that was so hard to believe? The amount of grief running through the world from her death was incalculable. I thought it was a stupid question at the time and still do. We’d have been shocked at any way in which she’d be taken from us.
Diana was one year younger than I was. I, like one hundred million people worldwide, watched her get married. I celebrated the true romantic fairytale-come-to-life that we were led to believe was real. I celebrated the birth of her sons with her, and then mourned the death of her marriage, because a fairy tale doesn’t really end at “they lived happily ever after.”
Diana was my age-peer, but we had so much more in common than just our chronological age. We both suffered from very public eating disorders, exacerbated by stress and loneliness; both felt the ravishes of being from divorced parents; both wanted to be people pleasers so we’d know our value in the world. Sure, she married a prince and I married an ophthalmologist, but even though she was considered a Royal, the world – myself included – considered her one of us. No other Royal to date has been able to garnish the love from the common man that Diana did.
A short week later, on September 5, 1997, Mother Teresa died and I remember my daughter asked me why two such beloved women had to die at the same time. I had no wisdom for her, only what my heart told me: God must have needed them in Heaven really badly for him to take them both from us.
The world has changed dramatically since August 31, 1997. For a very brief time we were given the gift of having Diana in it. All she ever wanted was to be the Queen of People’s Hearts. It’s too bad she had to leave us before she knew she was…..