I met Dianne online about 4 years ago through SL Gor. We grew to know one another, working closely together in SL Gor but never expressing more than a friendship with one another. Then about 4 months later, I was going through a difficult time, and expressed to Dianne that I believed it was time for me to leave SL Gor. That I wanted to do other things with my life than rp in Gor all the time. Realizing I was about to leave her life and she might never get another chance, Dianne revealed to me feelings she had for me. I also harbored feelings for Dianne which I had never expressed. It was then that we began exploring these feelings we had for so long ignored. We began talking on the phone about everything. Finally, we decided that Dianne would come to visit me and see if there was more to this than merely a phone and internet pen pal relationship.
I remember the day I picked her up from the airport well. It was a cold overcast January day. There was tons of snow on the ground, but no new snow falling. Which I was thankful for. So I arrived at the airport early and waited near the baggage claim. She saw me first, and as I sat looking in the wrong direction, heard the sound of luggage being set on the ground, so I turned around. I looked up to see a woman standing there with a wide smile on her face. I knew immediately, this was never going to pan out. She was older than I by 18 years. She was a heavy-set woman. I knew this already. On seeing her in person, in her raggedy jeans and some sort of brown faded hunting shirt, she just wasn't attractive to my sight at all. I soon began to wonder, "Oh hell, how am I going to get out of this one, she's supposed to be here for two weeks!" But I politely smiled and got up, giving her a hug. Then we took her bags to the car and began the drive back to my place.
On the ride, I realized the solution to my problem was already in place. See, I lived in a modest apartment, and I lived like a.... well a single bachelor. I knew for sure, that once she saw my place, she too would realize this was never going to work. Well, we got to my place, and I lead her into my apartment. She took one look around and said, "Oh dear." Then she turned and looked at me with a grin and gave me a great big hug. She said, "I'm so happy to finally be here." The next week we talked a lot and since I was still working that week, she cleaned a lot while I was out. When my vacation week began she asked if I would take her to the grocery store. She wanted to be able to cook for me, but didn't have what she needed. Either in equipment nor food. So we went, and she supplied my bachelor pad.
Later that week, I took her out into the Wisconsin cold. I had promised to take her to make snow angels one day. It was about the coldest day of the entire winter. We trudged through snow up to our butt holes to an open area nearby. We were laughing and carring on at how difficult it was for Dianne to negotiate the Wisconsin snow. We made snow angels and quickly decided it was time to get back into the warmth of the house. There, she quickly decided it was time to make us some cocoa and warm up. We did, and like many of those first nights, we talked for hours. It was probably at this time that it finally all hit me. I realized, that even though she was not a beauty queen, she was everything I had ever hoped for in a woman. She excelled in those areas in my life in which I was often neglectful. Making and having real meals. Taking care of the house. All those things which require a woman's touch. On top of that, she wanted only good things for me. She wanted things which would make me a better man. She wanted me to experience those things I had only dreamed of, but always found an excuse to never do. She wanted simply nothing more, than for me to be happy, and for her to be able to be a major reason for that happiness. When I realized all this, that is when I first fell in love with her.
Talk turned to her impending return to Florida. She had been having troubles with her leg, and it had swollen quite a bit from the first airplane flight. But we talked about the possibilities of her returning in two weeks, or I flying to Florida, since I had another vacation coming up in a couple of weeks. Finally, I simply suggested, "Why don't you just stay?" It would give her leg time to recover before having to attempt another flight. And we wouldn't need to worry about trying to get airline tickets and such in a great rush. So she agreed. We spent the next two weeks, carrying on, getting to know one another more, and falling more and more in love. She began making me want more for my life. I began sharing with her my great love of movies by showing her some of those I loved. She began turning my apartment into a home, and I would ramble on about deep philosophical junk which she rarely really understood, but she tried and pretended like she knew what I was talking about and cared. When the time neared that my vacation time would be ending, and she would return home to her adopted family, we decided we wanted to continue the relationship, but not at a distance. She had little attaching her to her home in Florida, so we decided she would just stay. We were familiar with the concept of Gorean companionship, so we drank the wine together.
We spent the next year building a life together. She made me replace my broken bed and finally get a real couch. We went places together on my days off work. Previously, I mostly just stayed in my house playing computer games and watching movies. We did some traveling to baseball games, indoor soccer games, casinos, and all sorts of things. I introduced her to the Renaissance Faire and she absolutely loved it. She introduced me to coffee, and I absolutely loved it.
As the end of that first year began to approach. I decided I didn't just want to extend our relationship one year. I wanted to marry this woman. So, I went out and found a ring. Something I knew would be special to us both. I wrapped it up and when I came home from work late Christmas Eve night, I placed the box into her stocking before filling it up to the point that it almost could not bear the weight with chocolates and other candies I had been hiding from her. I put a few of the candies in my own stocking and went to bed. The next morning she found her stocking and rummaged through all the various treats inside. It took her awhile to reach the bottom where the ring was. When she found it and opened it, she knew exactly what it meant, even though it was an opal rather than the traditional diamond. She said yes.
Two months later, I returned home from work late at night. Dianne's leg had been really bothering her for several months, but this night the pain shooting through it was more than she could stand. After months of refusing to go see a doctor, she begged me to take her into the ER. So I did. The doctors in the ER weren't entirely sure what the problem was, though I suspect they had a good idea what it probably was. They shipped Dianne off to another hospital in Madison. After about a day of poking and prodding, a team of doctors was introduced to us, and they explained why Dianne was having so much pain in her leg. A tumor had been growing there for some time, and it was now about the size of a miniature football, pressing against her nerves and arteries. Further tests had shown that it was malignant, and was a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma. The prognosis of this type of cancer was 1-3 years, it was terminal, and there was nothing even remotely close to a cure. Because we had been doing fine financially, Dianne hadn't found new work since she had moved to Wisconsin. So, she had no insurance. She was able to qualify for state aid though. But, as it was explained to us, if we were to get married the state aid would immediately stop and whatever medical bills there were, would become my responsibility to pay upon her death. My insurance through work would not pick up her coverage. To put it simply, marrying her would mean I would ultimately be left with bills that I would have to be paying for the rest of my life. It was when we knew there was no other solution, that we decided that the Gorean companionship we had begun our relationship with, would have to serve as our marriage. And so that's simply how we viewed it. In our own hearts and minds, we were husband and wife, just not in the eyes of the law.
Most of the remaining spring and summer, Dianne went through heavy chemo and radiation treatments. Meant not to cure the disease, but to slow its progression. At first it was the chemo that was hard. Causing her to become nauseous and miserable. But it was as the hot summer months approached that the real pain began. The radiation treatments, which were to her upper right thigh, where the large tumor was....Were effecting more than just the tumor. They were also hitting most of her feminine parts. For those of you that aren't familiar with radiation treatments. They are sort of like concentrated tanning machines. Imagine tanning yourself to the point of severe sunburn with intense radiation. Now imagine that being focused in part in your private areas. Add to this the fact that the weather was becoming hotter and hotter, and the apartment had no air conditioning. And she was also still having chemo treatments. She suffered through this for about a month, before we decided together that the long drives to get treatments, the pain of the radiation and chemo combined and that the tumor was shrinking only a very little was not worth it. We discontinued the radiation treatments. We tried to focus on the times when she wasn't sick from chemo and to do as many fun things as we could.
Later that year the tumor was just becoming too much. We moved to an apartment with first floor access so she didn't have to fight steps to get in and out of the house. And we made sure it had air conditioning. And Dianne went in for surgery to remove her right leg completely at the hip. The surgery itself went well, but due to the damage caused by the radiation, the wound from the surgery was not healing properly. She spent a month living in a hospital ward learning to function with one leg as well as trying to heal the wound from the surgery. A wound which would only finally heal about a year after the surgery.
Diannes health began to decline, and she came home to live under the care of home hospice in November of last year. The doctors and hospice workers didn't expect her to survive two weeks when she made the move to home hospice. But, her health began to improve. We decided to again try to enjoy as much of life as she was able. And since chemo wasn't an option, we didn't have to worry about that interfering this time. We made lots of trips to the casinos to play bingo, she really began to love it, because it was something that was easily done from a wheelchair. We made our way to the Mall of America during one of my vacations and walked the entire mall. Ok, I walked, she rode. She saw the botanical domes. Saw more baseball games. Went to a TSO concert. Walked State Street. Visited Green Bay. Ate at fancy restaurants when we could. Watched good movies and TV shows like Lost, Las Vegas, and Prison Break. Went to Ren Faire. And she continued every chance she was able to try to be that wife she dreamed of being. Sometimes having to settle for the simple satisfaction of preparing me some coffee, even if I didn't ask for any. We lived life as normally and happily as we could.
At the beginning of July this year, I came home to quite a scare. Dianne was in bad shape and had to be taken to the hospital. I knew I could no longer care for her myself, even with the help of good friends and relatives. She went to a hospice facility. I was again told that she would not likely live the week through. (I was told this many times during her fight against cancer, most of which I have omitted here.) But, she turned around, and spent the next 3 1/2 months living in that hospice facility. She was able to get out and do some of the things she enjoyed on occasion. She even made one last trip to Ren. Faire, even goosing the famous Guido Crescendo there. At the same time, she grew close to many of the nurses, aides and volunteers at the hospice. Touching their lives as much as they made hers more comfortable. She also touched the lives of many other patients and their families as they struggled with the last days of their loved ones. Some continued to visit her even after their loved ones had passed on. And she grew in her relationship with Christ beyond what she had before.
It is my belief, that God sent Dianne to me and to hospice for this very reason. That the reason she survived so long when medically she should have not, was so that she could play the role that God had chosen for her. To touch the lives of all who came in contact with her. To strengthen them and hopefully change them for the better. To comfort those around her who struggled, even perhaps those who were charged with comforting her.
I have tried to tell you of the life of Dianne as best I can. Both from personal memory and from what she has told me of her life before meeting me. I have, of course left out many things, like how she was a feisty one who could really let a person know when she didn't like something. And how she could make things very difficult for people, just because she liked to give them a hard time sometimes. But I hope I have done her life justice, by relaying some of the most important things she had to teach us all. That life can be short, and life can be hard. That we always have opportunities to make life better for those we meet. That God has a purpose and plan for each of us, though it may seem a difficult and hard road to travel. And that we all need to allow ourselves to love life and enjoy every moment of it.
The last thing Dianne did before the final stages of her passing took hold of her mind and body was to have a margarita party at the hospice. Virgin margaritas of course, but you make do with what you have. The last thing she said to me was, "Don't cry, be happy. I love you more."
Dianne passed from this world into the arms of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on October 16, 2010.... Sweetest Day.