Most moments are just that. Fleeting instances in which nothing much happens. You feed the cat, boil the kettle, maybe check your email. When the moment ends, you are much the same person as you were when it began.
Some moments are different. In everybody’s life there are moments where you quite unexpectedly turn into somebody else. Like a reluctant caterpillar, you emerge from a chrysalis you hadn’t even known you inhabited and find that everything has changed.
I have been alive for thirty-seven years, and I have had only two such moments. One occurred when I gave birth and found myself wonderfully and terrifyingly transformed into a mum. And the other took place much earlier, when at the age of twenty-two I suddenly became a person who had lost her own mother.
I have been thinking a lot about these transformative moments today, as I heard the news first of Peaches Geldof’s death and then that of the two doctors who died trying to save their children. Between them, they leave four small children who, though some are too young to know it, experienced their own pivotal moment today. This morning they all had mummies, and now they do not, and they never will again. I can’t help wondering who has been given the terrible task of explaining to these children that their mummies are not coming home. I keep imagining how anyone could possibly break such news and hoping desperately that no-one ever has to do it for my daughter.
Such are the moments upon which life turns. You receive some news, and in the few seconds it takes for you to hear and digest it, you turn entirely against your will into a different sort of person. Suddenly you are a bereaved person, a person whose mother or brother or father or sister has died, and you have no idea how to be that individual . You have to learn how to live the story that turns out to be yours, even though it is a story you never wanted to hear.
Most days, we start and end the day as roughly the same person. Some days, we don’t. Today has reminded me to be grateful for those duller times, for the days we stay the same. For the reassurance and the comfort of inconsequential moments.