LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A few Thursdays ago, I showed up at my friend Dianna Milam’s house with a basket full of eggs, whipping cream, sausage and bread. Dianna opened the door with a pure, unrestrained smile on her face, and I basked in seeing the radiance. Because after the hardest year of her life, Dianna Milam had made it. Life was ahead of her in all its wonderful, complicated glory and she was ready to dive in, ready to feel normal, ready to celebrate, and, thanks be to God, ready to eat.
Six weeks ago, Dianna had surgery to remove a tumor in her brain. The mass was discovered last November after she’d started feeling increasing dizziness and an increased sensitivity to light. It was actually my husband, who is a radiologist, who called to tell her what the MRI had shown. The tumor was benign, but it was pressing on an important nerve center in her brain. It would continue to grow and the symptoms from it would continue to get worse.
In December, she came to my house for lunch a changed woman. I’ve known Dianna for several years now, and though we don’t see each other that often, when we do, we are able to pick up where we left off and have the most extraordinary conversations.
I first met her while I was working at The Sentinel. She was training her two golden retrievers for Love on a Leash, a program that provides pet therapy to the sick and elderly, and hoped they would become a beloved part of St. Jo. I’d been assigned to write a story about it and, upon meeting, we immediately hit it off, with me spending a lot more time visiting with her than actually getting information for the story (sorry, Willie).