Dianne died last night.
I can't claim that I knew her especially well -- I'm not even sure I spelled her name right. This picture of her is snipped from a larger shot of her table at my reading, last month. And it was her table: she brought her husband, as well as her brother and his wife to hear me read, buy my book, and share drinks and conversation with a bunch of us.
I sat at their table for quite a while. I was thrilled they were there, and it was all Dianne's doing. They were a real pleasure to be with: generous conversationalists with a wide range of experiences. Which figures, because that's how I think of Dianne.
I first met her at swimming lessons, the summer before last. Her son, Josh, shared an instructor with my younger daughter, Lucy. The lessons were held at a local back yard pool during weekdays. Typically enough, I was the only man/father in the company of women/mothers. It can be a little tricky for me to initiate conversations in this environment; it's a high privilege I in no way earned, so I do tend to squirm when explaining my status as stay-home parent. But I quickly learned Dianne was a person in the habit of thinking "outside the envelope". And she was very easy to converse with.
I last saw her a week ago, Thursday. She was tooling around town in the family car. She gave me and Lucy her usual energetic wave and happy smile.
I've never seen cancer work this fast. She was diagnosed in the summer, and the last two months, it really felt like she was being torn away from her community, to say nothing of her son and husband. Now we are all here for Josh and Bob. Now we all miss Dianne.