‘A lone gull makes its way across the sky, battling against the wind. Unremarkable enough, yet it’s enough to whisk me back through time. Along with certain words and phrases, this bird has assumed a particular significance in my life with the power to endure through eighteen years; to mock my defences; to open old wounds.
The day that brown envelop dropped through the letter-box was similarly unremarkable, but it was the butterfly that would create a tornado. True, my stomach tightened as I read the hospital letter, but that was to be expected. I was on unfamiliar ground. But there were no warning bells as I noted down the appointment in my diary. No omens. No ‘signs of ill portent’. Not a black raven in sight! Yet it heralded the most momentous event in my life. Soon, a spattering of red-ringed reminders would deface the calendar, prophetically resembling red-rimmed eyes. The world would tilt, a chasm would open and for a moment time would stand still. There would be mind-battering aftershocks; life-shattering changes. Memories would become re-categorised ‘before’ or ‘after’. And a year that should have been ordinary would become a milestone, a memory gauge more powerful than birthdays, marriages or deaths.
You’d have thought the gods might at least have given me a hint of what was to come.
CH 1, p8.