If you asked me what the worst day of my life was, I’d be able to tell you without a second’s thought: January 2nd, 2016.
The funny thing was, I’d been preparing for news of this kind.
One of my cats, Wolfy, is seventeen and creaky. When I said goodbye to my cats before flying out two weeks earlier, I’d given Wolfy a special cuddle.
“Don’t die,” I whispered, as I’d gotten into the habit of doing before we fell asleep. This time, though, I added something extra: “But if you do, it’s okay.”
I told his sister, Baci, to look after him while I was away.
She was four years old and in excellent health. I gave her a special cuddle too, because if I was being honest with myself, I loved Baci a bit extra. Wolfy was our family cat, but Baci was mine.
So when my dad pulled into the McDonalds carpark moments after picking me up from the airport, and my mum turned around with tears in her eyes, I thought I knew what she was going to say.
"Wolfy?" I said.
She shook her head, soundless with grief.
"Baci," she said, and started to cry.
I couldn't move. I was struck by a pain so physical it hurt, like someone had punched me in the stomach and winded me.
I could hear myself crying, but in some part of my brain I still didn't believe it.