On the first day of the new year, I was reminded how precious our time with the people we love is, and how privileged I am to share each and every moment with them. It's not something I had forgotten, as such, but I had perhaps become so caught up in thinking it that I'd forgotten to feel it properly.
I usually curl up away from the world on New Years Eve, agitated by the incessant reminders that as I journeyed in and out of hospital time was doing little more than pass. I could always hear it ticking long before the chimes.
This year, it was time for something completely different. After a slightly unsettling conversation with a GP who reminded me that the NHS IVF cut-off is closer in practical terms than I had previously considered, I was very aware of the implications of transitioning into another year. A year when I'll turn 29, (which I will continue to deny, favouring a fifth attempt at 25), which is a little too close to 30 when so many decisions must be made long before I'm 35.
So it was with a jumbling tumble of anxiety and anticipation that I curled up in the warm, with tea and the telly, to see 2014 out, and 2015 in. There was one notable difference this time though; I wasn't alone. I got to spend my New Year's Eve with someone who has always tried to ensure that I'm not on my own for any of the big things, and, more recently, has been there for all the little things too.
I wasn't in any doubt about how fortunate I was to begin this year feeling safe, warm, loved, and happy - which I'm afraid I still peer quizzically at on occasion, like a dog that hasn't understood a command, as all this contentment is quite new a thing.
Although unremarkable by the standards of many, it was a particularly good night by my own. I appreciated just how much of the previous year I had enjoyed, despite it also being one of the toughest. As it neared twelve, my companion smiled and pointed out that he wouldn't see me again this year. I felt a moment of bereavement, realising that whatever happened next we'd never again get the same time back. Those months and weeks and days and hours and minutes and seconds of things that were good were being swept away alongside all the bad stuff I had been so keen to move away from. After all that has happened this year, the one thing I had not anticipated was being sad to see it end. But I was, as 2014 drew its final breaths, sorry it was ending there, as all the firsts became lasts.
What made me so fortunate was that all those lasts; last smiles, last hugs, last kisses, would be reborn in the fireworks before the smoke had begun to clear. Despite the many hardships hovering just over the horizon, the new year brought with it lots of hope. The sense of beginning was just as strong as the pang of loss, and the fireworks beautifully embodied the feeling that there would be pockets of the purest, brightest light in the approaching darkness.
When I woke today, still comforted by the hope and light and happiness that sent wisps of itself out into the future with tantalising clarity, its focus was even more keenly illustrated.
During the night, as I had mourned our lasts and sought solace in our nascent firsts, a neighbouring household could take comfort from neither.
At this stage I don't know who died - if it was the husband of the older couple, or his wife. Simply that yards away from my happiness someone elses lasts were much more final, and their firsts so much more sad. Someone, somewhere very close, had smiled with, and hugged, and kissed the one they loved for the last time. The very last. Their firsts would be so opposite to mine that it was almost impossible to think of them being played out simultaneously. All of my hopeful togethers are to be their desperate alones. All the love and support that carried me into the new year was stolen away for them as the joyous strains of Auld Lang Syne faded too.
I will begin this new year so very thankful for the people with whom I will share the rest of it, and - I hope - will do my very best to appreciate the strength and depth with which we each love, and are loved, by things whose ties to the world are so frail.