Mark your calendars. July 1st, 2011 would have been the 50th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales.
That is, if she were still alive.
Since her premature death in 1997, it seems people are determined to hang on to her memory. Every other year seems to bring a new biography. Then there's the Diana exhibit, the inquest into her death, her sons holding the Concert for Diana and a memorial service. With Prince William marrying Catherine Middleton, giving her his mother's famed ring, choosing Diana's favorite photographer and reportedly moving into Diana's old residence, Kensington Palace, the media has enough material to work with.
With all of the overkill surrounding her memory, why should we mark her birthday as well? Let's not kid ourselves that there's anything altruistic or meaningful in doing so. Diana, for whatever reason, still sells. That's why you have LIFE book-a-zines and articles filled with futile speculation on what she would have been like had she lived. (Is it ironic for a publication that celebrates the benefits of aging to speculate about the life of a dead person?)
To be fair, she's not the only dead person whose birthday we commemorate if we're reminded. Combining it with a holiday (Christmas) certainly jogs the memory, otherwise it's just a date in the calendar. For Canadians, July 1st is already a holiday - Canada Day. Too bad, so sad. Maybe if we're lucky Google will create a Doodle in her memory.
With each passing year any relevance that Diana had wanes. Because she died at her peak we continue to idealize her. As if she would have continued on that trajectory. If she had died at her lowest point, she would be a sad memory - like Marilyn Monroe or Judy Garland. Glorious in their heyday, pitiful in death. By marking the anniversary of Diana's 50th birthday, what are we really commemorating? What could have been? What should have been?
How about facing the reality of what is. Diana is gone.
Leave her to her rest in peace.
© Marilyn Braun 2011
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