Friday, August 31, 2007


Jim and I were in Las Vegas. This was long before the kids were in the picture. Just escaping from work and enjoying some time with Jim's family. I found out from Paul Eckroth that Princess Diana had been seriously injured in a car accident. By the time we got back to the hotel, the TV anchorman said that she had died.

Died? I was stunned. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I no longer cared about the trip or Las Vegas. I just wanted to sit in front of the TV and hear that the whole thing was a mistake and that she had been revived. Admittedly, I was somewhat surprised and even a little embarrassed that I was this devastated over a public figure, a celebrity. Someone whom I clearly never hoped to meet or know. And yet, in this age of multi-media, countless tell-alls, and hyper publicity, I grew up with her.

When I was fifteen, I stayed up all night with my mother and watched her marry the Prince. It's just one of those memories that will stay with me always. Everything about the wedding was magical. The dress, the pageantry, and all the rest of it. Of course none of us had any idea that the marriage itself was miserable for both of them, almost from the very start. No. At fifteen, I, like the rest of the world, caught the Diana bug. I was strangely proud of the fact that we shared the same birthday. On the day she married the Prince of Wales, in front of literally the world, she was a mere five years older than I. Astounding really.

Diana was beautiful in that full featured, English kind of way. She was everything I thought a woman should be. Tasteful, elegant, stylish, modest, self-effacing, vulnerable, and kind. Who couldn't smile when she flubbed up her own husband's name during the ceremony? In those days, no one could fault her. Her innocent missteps just added to the charm.

Over the years, we found out more than we wanted to know about Diana's faults and weaknesses. There has been so much written about her that it's really hard to know what is true and what isn't. But one thing seems very clear from her own words and actions. She married someone who did not love her, she was lonely in a way that is almost impossible for any of us to understand, and that she tried to cope in ways that I don't admire but I with which I sympathize. And she was a great mother. She loved her children. My goodness did that show. We saw her joyously bear hugging the boys after a lengthy separation. Laughing hysterically with them while getting soaked on a theme park water ride. Imploring the press to give her and the boys a break so that they could ski in peace and enjoy a family holiday. As a mother, I understand wanting the best for your kids and just doing everything you can for them--in good times and in bad.

It's been ten years since she died and she still fascinates me. I'm particular about what I read where she's concerned. I like my untainted Diana memories thank-you-very-much. If I hear a criticism, I just turn a deaf ear. And just when I thought I knew every arcane piece of of Diana trivia known to man, I heard a new one just the other day. Her favorite movie was The English Patient.

Could her legacy be any more secure?

Due in part to her inspiration, a fifteen year old girl, awkward and insecure, began to realize that beauty includes all kinds of internal and external qualities. And while at 41, the confidence meter isn't always as high as it should be, I think back to "shy Di" who blossomed into a maverick, an icon beloved not only for her beauty but also for her kind, generous spirit. And that gentle, loving nature inspires me still.

God bless and keep her this day and always.

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