Hard to believe that it has been 18 years since Diana's death. I will never forget where I was when I heard she had been in an accident.
Flipping through the channels late at night, the image of a car crashed in a tunnel appeared on my screen. The channel was MSNBC News with Brian Williams. Diana's name peaked my interest and I continued watching the awful scene with the crumpled car surrounded by police vehicles. As the details slowly emerged, Dodi and the driver were dead but Diana was miraculously still alive. There were few details about her exact condition but she was alive. Listening to updates about paparazzi involvement did not surprise me in the slightest.
On-lookers were being interviewed near the tunnel, some stating they had even taken photographs and I found myself disgusted by that. Note that this was before Facebook or Twitter or even Instagram, where nowadays, anything seems to go no matter how grossly inappropriate it may be. However, back then it was surprising.
It was hard to process what was happening but I found myself reaching for my books about Diana, looking at pictures of her and wondering if anything would ever be the same again. Would she live? If she did, what condition would she be in? I admit there was a part of me that thought, if she is too badly injured, maybe it would be better if she did not survive. Her life will be far more difficult and she would become an even bigger curiosity. This time for all of the wrong reasons.
Finally, the awful news. Brian Williams announcing that Diana was dead. This beautiful woman was gone from the world. Even worse, William and Harry no longer had their mother. Watching the boys walking behind their mother's coffin was heartbreaking.
The next morning I immediately went out and bought every newspaper I could find. Bells toiled on the radio and I broke down when I heard them. Throughout the week leading up to the funeral I bought every magazine in tribute to her. At the time I worked in a hospital which Diana had served as a patron. There was even a portrait of her there. The hospital had set out a condolence book and there was one very upset woman, who spent a lot of time writing in it. It really felt as though the world had stopped. I had the same feeling on September 11th, 2001.
Many years later, in 2003, I got the chance to go on 'my pilgrimage,' to Althorp. After viewing the exhibit on her life in the stables, I walked towards the oval island where she is buried. My thoughts were somewhat macabre. Was she really buried on that island? It didn't look nearly deep enough. A part of me still believes that she is buried in the small temple nearby. Say what you will about her brother, he created a beautiful, moving exhibit and everything about the estate is tastefully done.
From time to time I still look at my books about Diana. Marveling at her beauty and charisma and natural report with the public. The public reaction to Diana's death may have been over the top at times but it is not surprising. It is still hard to believe that she is gone.
© Marilyn Braun 2015
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