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Goodbye, England's Rose -- 16 Year Anniversary of Princess Diana's Death
The Indelible Memory
Black Carolina sky, dimly lit by the hillside cafe's fog lamps, the engine of my car humming gently, the radio's song abruptly ended for an urgent news cast. All sensation left my limbs - it was providence that I had just parked my car for a roadside break on our 17-hour journey to New York. Princess Diana, dead?
Candle in the Wind - Elton John
I sat, incredulous at what I heard, dumbfounded at the depth of grief flowing from my heart. How could the loss of someone I had only peripherally observed bring such precise, focused bereavement? The crunch of gravel underneath the moving truck slowing beside my car interrupted my stupor. I don't know how long I sat in the black leather seats of my '96 Maxima, unseasonably cool air wafting gently through the open sunroof.
My 14 year old step sister sat silently as well. She was accompanying me for my drive across the country - I was relocating from South Georgia to upstate New York in search of a fresh start. My father and his wife and 9-year-old step-daughter were driving (thankfully, because Lord knows I wouldn't have known how to maneuver the monstrosity of a vehicle) the moving truck, and had been a few minutes behind us. My dad asked what was wrong, and initially thought I was joking when I told him the news -- not wanting it to be true -- a sentiment that bonded the world for weeks following.
News casts of the accident enraged our hearts at the incessant pursual of papparazzi into her newly found happiness. Accounts of cardiologists and medical teams massaging the Princess's heart in attempt to revive empassioned sympathy for their valiant, hopeful yet futile efforts. We wondered if Prince Charles regretted his poor candor towards his Princess Bride. We hoped the young Princes William and Henry would be permitted to follow her altruistic legacy.
Elton John's eulogic "Candle in the Wind" beautifully expressed the world's bereavement and emotion. As her casket journeyed from the cathedral to Lady Diana's final resting place, the path wove a thread through the crowds, uniting in grief millions of people from every demographic, economic status, race, country and bloodline -- all souls wrenched in loss for England's "golden child". Our hearts lamented the untimely loss of her life, the loss of a nurturing mother for her children, the loss of the hope she brought and the grace she embodied.
What Moved Us
Princess Diana was born to privilege, and with that came specific obligation. Yet, she embraced her servitude not with an obligatory aire, but with vigor, vision, valiance, and most importantly - grace.
Her humble response to marital struggles and her husband's betrayal - broadcast into our homes through the merciless coverage of media - stirred compassion and respect. She championed world understanding of the plight of AIDS victims through her philanthropic deeds- and we were moved with her compassion as she lovingly caressed an AIDS-refugee child during an era when AIDS victims were considered "untouchable". Her lifestyle afforded her the finest cuisine, yet she unprecedentedly endeavored to reconcile her children to the lifestyle of "everyday people" with weekly visits to a burger joint, and frequent volunteering at homeless soup kitchens. She dressed impeccably - yet was always clothed in honor and humility.
Prince William and Princess Kate
A Living Legacy
Princess Diana taught her children, and the world, to live above snobbery. Prince William's choices as a young adult reflect a world view guided by Princess Diana. He chose his life partner not according to the bloodflow of her heart, but because of the life and loveflow of her heart. He serves daily in his country's military.
The memory of Princess Diana inspires me, as the prophet Micah penned, "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." She will forever live in our hearts.