I was fascinated by Princess Diana from the beginning. I was seven or eight when news of Lady Diana hit the US. My older sister would buy magazines, and I couldn't help but be interested in her life. Perhaps it was the idea of a real princess who looked like she stepped from a fairytale. I remember being at a friend's house that summer, and we woke up at 4am to watch her wed Prince Charles. It was one of those memories that has stayed with me through the years.
As she engaged in royal life, she gained confidence and championed causes that she dearly believed in, and thus she became a role model to young women from all over the world. As I grew up, I continued to admire her kindness, her dedication to her sons, and of course, her beauty.
On Labor Day Weekend 1997, I had a friend visiting from out of town, and we decided to go on a road trip to Laughlin, NV. I would be starting my first real teaching job after the weekend, and so it seemed like a good weekend to celebrate. As I sat at the blackjack table, I heard from someone that Princess Diane had died. It didn't register immediately with me that it was her. Later, as I watched TV, I was horrified to learn that the woman I had adored for practically my entire life was dead.
I didn't let on to my friends how crushed I was, because I worried they would think it was strange. During the days that followed, I was glued to the television while I was home. I saw people placing flowers at Kensington Palace, and I was sad for them too. I was only 24 or so, but I thought about Princes William and Harry, and how incredibly lost they must have felt. My dad died when I was 16, and mourn him still. I watched her funeral, and just felt such a loss. And over the years, I've thought about Princess Diana often. I've thought about all the young women who wouldn't have the opportunity to have her as a role model.
I was not the type of person to be halted by the death of someone who I didn't know, but the life and death of Princess Diana touched me for some reason. My world is completely unrelated to that of Princess Diana, but I think of her death as a time marker.
And in the 20 years since, I have had good times, and I have had hard times. I have become a wife and a mother. I have received a master's degree, and I've moved from the West to the East, and now I'm in the Midwest. I've worked in public schools and private schools, I've taught art, been a counselor, an administrator and a stay at home mom.
I've been watching the news coverage honoring the life of Princess Diana, and my husband and I have talked with our children about her importance. She was a modern princess, she changed the monarchy and her charitable legacy lives on.
I find myself burned out and honestly, a bit lost after living what seams like a lifetime since I sat playing blackjack. I'm not sure what the next 20 years will bring, but I do know that life is unpredictable, and that's okay.