Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Diana's Tragedy Recalls Other Passings

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Diana's Tragedy Recalls Other Passings

Article excerpt

I spent four Saturday morning hours watching Princess Diana's funeral. For me that's prime time -- the best time of the week to take a crack at my personal to-do list. The next day, after Mass and after a wedding shower for a young friend and before my small Christian community's annual picnic, I checked the channels on my TV and my National Public Radio station. But they had switched back to regular programming -- talking about football, soccer, tennis and folk music.

I wanted more of Diana. Some part of me wasn't yet ready to let go, to let her go, to allow both of us to move on. I wanted to stay with images of the beautiful, compassionate princess. If we could just keep our focus on Diana, we could hold her with us. Didn't people know that?

Ah, that idea had a familiar ring. It carried me back in memory to a time when a man I cared about died of cancer. He lived in the same city as my mother and I flew up there, as I had done many times during his sickness. There I was surrounded by his sisters and brothers and their families. We had a funeral, and the next day we followed the hearse to the little town where he and I and the sisters and brothers had grown up. We had a second wake, attended by some of his relatives who still lived in the area and by people who knew his family when his parents farmed west of town. We buried him on the Dakota prairie next to his father, and not far from plots that bear the names of both sets of my grandparents.

That night at his sister's house, when the first of the relatives prepared to leave for home, I wanted to say, "Don't go! …

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