|Princess Diana is gone. Like so many others, I have been amazed and mystified by my own
I had always admired Diana. The abrupt and immense transformation from a "nobody to a princess"
(in her own words) brought sudden fame, power, and wealth, and yet also brought personal challenges we could
all identify with. Her marriage - doomed from the start, as we later discovered - her subsequent eating
disorders and periods of depression and despair were stark reminders that a "royal" person is, in
fact, a person - a real human being with real human needs and feelings. Diana, perhaps more than any other
famous person in history, taught us that each and every human, in any walk of life, is like all others in the
ways that truly matter.
Diana clearly had much to teach us about courage. She had larger-than-life challenges that made ours seem
easier by comparison. She did not simply have personal conflicts with a mother-in-law, but with the Queen of
England. She did not simply have a marriage doomed by her husband's love for another, but had to face this
devastating discovery under the constant surveillance of photographers, reporters, and all the rest of us.
At times, she faltered, responding with all-too-human anger, jealousy, and despair. But then she would
somehow recover her poise, and her generosity. She would - in the manner of a true princess - perform a
magical alchemy, turning her own private sorrows into compassion and hope for others. In the midst of personal
trouble, she would reach out to those less fortunate - the ill, the homeless, and those who had lost hope. She
did much of this work privately, without seeking honor or personal recognition for it.
Diana was also a devoted mother, who had to raise her children in extraordinary circumstances: an immense
and sudden shift from a kindergarten teacher to a princess, a troubled marriage, the glare of publicity and
lack of privacy, formidable and powerful in-laws, and a husband raised to accept royal protocol reflecting
centuries of cold, "appropriate" behavior. She took on all of these challenges, raising her children
with as much love, warmth, and compassion as anyone could manage in these exceptional circumstances.
In her life, Diana taught her children to express their emotions. With her untimely death, Diana
single-handedly thawed the British populace from a notoriously subdued, unemotional reserve, into a country
overcome by their grief and love for her, gathering by the millions to express the depth of their emotion -
with each other and before the world. Diana has left - but in taking her exit, has transformed all those she
left behind, magically multiplying herself, her love, her compassion, her generosity, her courage, and her
wisdom. In this sense - if we are fortunate - Diana will always be with us.