LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
I told her then, and it’s true now, Dianna is one of the most quotable people I have ever met. She has a way of speaking that gets to the essence of things, of articulating the unarticulated and conveying wisdom that you suspect she’s acquired through a lot of careful, quiet thought. I’ve learned a lot from her, whether we’re talking about step-parenting, ice cream making, skin care, marriage, friendship or Anthropologie. She lives her life with purpose and joy and, after spending an afternoon with her, you feel not only refreshed but inspired to live the same way.
But when Dianna came to my house last December, she had changed. She was still brilliant, but so damn scared. She told me she was doing everything she could to fight for her quality of life. The doctors had told her the tumor was inoperable and the dizziness, which would get worse, was something she would just have to accept. But she would not. So she was going to acupuncture and seeing a naturopathic doctor. Taking essential oils and had given up eating eggs, dairy and gluten. All of it, she told me in a controlled, unfamiliar voice, was in the hope she could cure herself, if by sheer will alone.
When Dianna left that day, I was upset for a long time. I didn’t know if I should write to her to tell her how I felt or if that would upset her more, inflate something she was trying to keep manageable. I wished there were something I could say to make things better, but hell if I knew what that was.
And then William got sick, and Dianna and I didn’t see each other for several months. When we did, we connected in a different way. We had met at a busy deli at lunchtime, but we might as well have been the only people on the planet. That’s how we felt. With her tumor and my husband sick, we had been left behind by the mainstream. Those lives had continued on smoothly and happily, ours were strapped to rafts floating in an unknown.