Diane’s life continued to follow a path of poor judgment, rash choices, and awful consequences, leading from one disaster to the next. When she met Tom they were both 18 years old. She was drifting through her life, rootless. Tom was drifting into schizophrenia. The two of them felt powerfully attracted to each other, pulled by their attraction and slowed by little else. Their relationship lasted, on and off, through eight years.
As Tom’s mental state grew worse, he would break off their relationship, which had predictably bad effects on Diane’s life. After one such breakup she left California for Minneapolis again. While she lived there she dated, became pregnant, and self-aborted. She nearly died from hemorrhaging. When she returned to California, Tom knocked on her door.
Once again, Tom deteriorated, and he broke up with her. Left on her own, Diane found work and set out to live on her own. One weekend she met a young man just returned from the Army, on his way to start college. The attraction was strong and mutual, and within a weekend they left for Las Vegas to marry. Diane was 23 and did not need anyone’s permission. A few months later, pregnant and disillusioned, she drifted back to Tom. She separated from her husband and found a small apartment she could afford with AFDC and help from Tom’s family.
Tom’s illness increased. In a state of psychosis he convinced Diane to travel to Tijuana, Mexico to marry him. By then he displayed open signs of mental illness, but Diane was unsure of herself and did not realize how severe his illness was. She had a baby to consider, and had made a commitment to herself and Jennifer that no matter what the provocation or temptation, she would not lie again. She took responsibility for her daughter and for Tom, caring for him as he became progressively more insane. Tom’s parents knew by then that something was wrong with him, though they refused to admit to its seriousness. They relied on Diane to care for him, and helped support them, paying for Diane’s classes and her dental work. When he attempted suicide the parents paid for his confinement in a private mental hospital and covered his episodes of bizarre acting out.
But when Tom appeared to Diane as though he might harm her or her daughter, Diane left him. She separated from Tom and started to plan life on her own. She decided to do something completely new, and climb Mount Whitney.