10 Years Ago

Do you remember where you were 10 years ago? Today is the tragic anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. As I write this, services have already been conducted in England. I was reminded of where I was 10 years ago, and the things that followed since.

I gotta say — it’s been a very interesting decade. I definitely could not have predicted the things I’ve seen and done, or where I’d have ended up.

Ten years ago, I was on a cross-Canada trip with my friend Gerry, having departed Calgary the day before (heading west) after helping move our friends Stuart and Therese. We’d decided to go through Kelowna on our way to Vancouver, stopping by to visit my Uncle David and Aunt Alaine.

That night, Gerry and I had slept in the van we were driving, as my aunt and uncle already had visitors. As I walked into the house the next morning, the TV blared the news: Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed had been killed in a high-speed crash in Paris.

My aunt was glued to the TV, and soon so was I. There are those little events that rock your world, and this was one of them.

Gerry and I were listening a lot to the CBC as we drove — it’s one of the few radio stations that you can receive virtually anywhere in Canada (given, different frequencies, but usually the same content). Most of the commentary and talk radio shows focused on Diana’s achievements, what had happened and who was to blame, and whether or not Diana actually achieved all that attention.

One of the sad ironies of all this was a few days later, on 5 September 1997. Gerry and I were crossing through the Prairies, listening to more arguments on the airwaves. One of the commentators said, and this is a paraphrase (it has been 10 years, after all):

Look at all the fuss over Diana. She didn’t change the world. Imagine what it’s going to be like when Mother Theresa dies!

No less than 10 minutes later, one of the other commentators on the show was apparently handed a piece of paper.

Uh... ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just learned that Mother Theresa has died.

Not many people remember this. Diana overshadowed Theresa entirely. The media focused on the glitz and glamour, and made the truly super-human efforts a mere footnote.

Ten years ago, I was a very different person. And a lot has changed since then. The trip 10 years ago set the groundwork for me to leave Southern Ontario and live elsewhere. It set me on a new career path, and led to the job I now have. It sent me to far-flung corners of the Earth, as we as crossing my own country. It taught me a lot about myself. It gave me a family.

Can you think back? What has happened to you in the last 10 years?

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