20 years ago tomorrow she woke with me at 5am so we could get our hair done. Laughing at the stories my sister told, we were at the hairdresser’s by 5:30, home again by 6:30, giggling over makeup, lingerie and flowers.
I vividly remember one photo in the back garden, under a huge deciduous tree, sunlight filtering in through the dense canopy. 3 bridesmaids in gorgeous purple dresses, two page boys with matching purple bow ties and cummerbunds, and one blissed out bride, surrounded with love and laughter.
Di spent much of the day rearranging my dress, making sure I was where I needed to be, taking care that I didn’t trip over myself or fall in the lake when the sunlight hit my veil and sparkled with blinding intensity. She was my stability, my sanity, and my laughter.
When we arrived at the zoo she was there to help me out of the car. She gave me everything she had that day, and though I was there to marry my fiance, I also felt intensely bonded to Di. She was integral to my wedding, and to my life.
Just over two years later, she was gone.
My mum wanted me to have one of my sisters as Maid of honour. “Friends come and go,” she said. “Your sisters will always be there for you.” And to be sure, Di and I had our ups and downs. When the flame burns with aching intensity, it’s bound to flare from time to time. But the hole left in my heart when she died makes it crystal clear that our friendship was built to last.
There is so much she should have done. So many things we should have shared. So much she should have been.
Her death left me broken, but perhaps also more empathic, more compassionate, and more vividly aware of the fragility of life. 20 years on, our wedding anniversary is bittersweet without her here to share it with us.
My oldest daughter’s middle name is Dianne. Recently a friend asked her who Dianne was, and it reminded me of the day Di died, when I stumbled over to my husband’s office, too distraught to see, speak, or think clearly. After I choked out the words “Di is dead,” his office mate said “Who’s Di?”
Who is Di? Di is my heart.