JANUARY 1999: I meet my best friend at our secondary school, we are in the same class and club. She will fast become the other sister I never had, who shall forever change my life with her kindness.

FEBRUARY 1999: Waiting in the immigration queue after landing in Cairo and lighting up a cigarette.

FEBRUARY 1999: My parents separate. My Dad moves out and I feel extremely happy to have him leave.

APRIL 1999: I come home from the hospital early in the morning and take a shower. On each leg I have a patch that stings; only now do I realise that my wife had been supporting her heels on them while our daughter was born.

JULY 1999: The horse is walking in swing-beat tempo. She’s never ridden a horse before, so we start out slow. Now a light trot, bumping up and down against the saddle. We pick up speed. The bumps turn to jostles. Are you ready? The trot breaks into a canter, the beats come in triplets: ba-da-DUM, ba-da-DUM, ba-da-DUM. I hear murmuring, and turn to find her. Her eyes are closed; she is repeating a Buddhist mantra, calming herself in time with equine rhythm.

JULY 1999: I am in hospital for the second time during my pregnancy. I am allowed out for a short walk with my husband in town. When we return, the doctor tells me they will operate to get the baby out now. There are still six weeks to go before the due date. I am afraid.

AUGUST 1999: I sit with a colleague from work on a rock in Connemara, we are drinking cider, can see the sea on three sides of us and the Twelve Bens in the background. The sun paints the waves golden.

AUGUST 1999: I start training as a legal clerk because I don't want to be dependent on anyone and want to earn my own money.

AUGUST 1999: He watches me with kind, smiling eyes over breakfast in a café on a sunny Sunday and shows me how to love.

SEPTEMBER 1999: Buying candy has become somewhat of a code word this summer: it means that they are gonna fight again. But this time it’s different: dad moves out. I cry and dig my fingernails into my cheeks so I won’t feel the pain inside me.

NOVEMBER 1999: My mother dies following an accident. My sister and brother in law take her home. I touch a corpse for the first time. We have time to say goodbye. I am sad but strengthened at the same time.

NOVEMBER 1999: My grandmother, whom I love more than anything, dies.

DECEMBER 1999: On New Year's Eve I stand next to Ross on Lambeth Bridge. Fireworks in the sky and in my belly. Everything is possible.