Feeling sad today, on the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Why do the people with the most to offer the world die so young?

The easy answer in this case could be one word–papparazzi. But it’s much more complex than that, and I don’t think speculation does anyone any good. So I’ll just take it back to the simple point that she did a great deal of good, and could have accomplished unimagined things in the long life we all thought she had ahead of her.

She was a pervasive influence on my life. I admired her compassion, her beauty, and the way she reminded the rest of us that life wasn’t always perfection, even for a fairytale princess. I learned a lot about fashion, style, carriage, and perseverance from my interest in her life.

There was a patina about the now eternally young woman of a sort of bruised grace. The kind that is hardwon and often not recognized fully by the person wearing it. Of course she made mistakes. Who among us does not under much less pressure and pain?

The life of Princess Diana often sparkled so that it made us point and look in awe, only able to imagine such an existence. Sometimes it faltered, making us just a little grateful that it was someone on a diffferent, lofty plain who must experience such travails.  Especially in the public eye. And we were glad, whether we admitted it or not, to see that there really weren’t so many fundamental differences between us when it came to pain and tragedy and loss.

That was the greatest gift she had for us all, I think. She was able to level the field until on many occasions she behaved as just Diana, the pretty little girl who grew up to be the incongruently dazzling princess of tragedy.