Princess Diana & Beau Biden

I woke my parents up at one a.m., crying and sobbing when it was confirmed that Princess Diana was dead.  And I never phone my parents after 10 p.m.  Ever.

My father listened to the news with taciturn silence, while I went on and on about the tragedy, the injustice, the paparazzi.  Dad is a no-nonsense guy.  He is tough, and raised tough daughters.  He takes pride in that.

In the years prior to Princess Diana's death, he tried to develop his empathetic side.  And it was a visible struggle.  So I took his silence to mean sympathy and agreement.  Wrong.

"It's not like you knew her," he said.

Accurate.  True.  Rational. Reasonable.  But so not helpful.

Mom grabbed the phone at this point and made the appropriate noises to comfort me.

Dad was puzzled enough about my emotional outburst that he asked my sister Trisch about it, and expressed concern that I might be coming unglued.

Of course, strictly speaking, Dad was right.  Princess Diana was someone I never met. But I related to her.  She was everywhere, with media saturation for years.  We all watched her transition from shy and awkward girl who was punked by photographers, to a princess in a fairy tale, to a neglected wife, to a jazzy divorcee.

Her life was photographed and judged by us all.  She is arguably the most photographed woman that ever lived.

So while watching Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks become very emotional about Beau Biden's death, I thought "It's not like you knew him."


Beau Biden survived a tragic car accident that killed his mother and sister.  He dedicated his life after that to public service, only to die before his time from cancer.  Beau Biden had a tragic start to a shortened life.  His father was a U.S. Senator, and then Vice President.  He could have cashed in on those connections, but did not.  He chose to serve.

And that's where I see the real parallel between Beau Biden and Princess Diana.  Both were dealt a rotten hand and chose public service.  Princess Diana was sucked into her royal role while still a teenager as baby-making machine for the royal family. All the attention was turned to holding AIDS babies in hospitals and clearing land mines.

Vice President Biden deserves our sympathy and respect at this sad time, where he chooses to continue to help other people despite his grief and loss.

Sorry you are going through this, Joe.

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