It was a Thursday. I was substitute teaching at an elementary year round school. It was the end of August (1997) in Los Angeles and it was scorching hot. At the afternoon recess, when I went to the administration building to use the faculty restroom, the school secretary called me over. She said my daughter had called and was upset but said it wasn’t an emergency but that I should call home. Tina was 12. She didn’t go to year round school, nor did my other two children. Tony was 15 so he stayed with the girls when I had a subbing job. I called home and Tina’s voice was shaky.
“Mom, I feel like someone is going to die. Someone famous.”
We had been talking about Mother Teresa because she had been ill and was elderly so I suggested that perhaps it was Mother Teresa that was going to die.
“No. It’s someone young. Someone that everyone loves and it’s going to be a big shock to everyone. To the whole world. Mom, I’m scared.”
Tina had this thing where she would pick up on feelings and could feel when disasters happened, often before they were reported on the news. She could feel when we were going to have an earthquake. She often could not put it together; she just knew “something bad is going to happen.” I was at work so I couldn’t console her but I told her we could talk about it when I got home in a couple of hours but by the time I got home, she had put it out of her mind and I felt it best not to bring it up because I knew she was always upset when she got these feelings. That was Thursday.
On Saturday, my youngest, Susie and I went to the grocery store in the late afternoon. When we drove into the driveway, Tina came running out of the house crying. Before I got a chance to ask her what was wrong, she cried out.
“Princess Diana was in a car accident. It’s bad, Mom. She’s the one. She’s going to die.”
Going into the house and watching the initial coverage, I learned about the car accident and that there was not yet any official word on her condition. However, as we all know, within the next half hour, her death was confirmed. There was indeed great sadness and shock at her untimely death.
And my Tina cried. Whenever she got these feelings and they came true, she felt like it was her fault; like she could have done something to prevent it. It wasn’t long after that she intentionally tried to tune out those type of feelings. The grief she felt was way too much for a teenager to process and handle.