Like the flick of a switch, life can change in an instant. Suddenly, in a single moment, everything is different and the landscape of our lives is redrawn forever.
As the American writer Joan Didion wrote in relation to the sudden death of her husband in their New York apartment on one otherwise ordinary evening: "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."
My flick-of-a-switch moment came exactly one year ago today.
I was sitting in a coffee shop just after 10am, sipping an Americano and checking my emails, when my phone rang.
"Where are you?" were my brother-in-law's first words. I told him. He paused. I detected a sense of unease. And then came the words that changed everything: "There's no easy way to say this. Marion has passed away."
Marion. My mother. Gone. Just like that.
I don't remember what I said.
Nor have I any recollection of how the call ended. I do know that, completely calm and as if in a trance, I got up off my stool, walked to the counter and paid for my coffee.
Then I walked out into the blue-skied, sunlit morning.
It wasn't until my mother's funeral four days later that my new 'status' dawned on me and I really grasped that life as I knew it had indeed ended.
I was nobody's child anymore. I was still a mother, a widow, a sister, a sister-in-law and an aunt, just as I had been before that Tuesday-morning phone call - but I was now no longer a daughter.
I was an orphan.
An orphan. What a strange, old-fashioned word. A word that conjures up images of Dickens's 'Oliver Twist', Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' and Thomas Hardy's 'Jude the Obscure'. A word, in effect, from another world, another time.
Yet this - for the last 12 months - is now my world too. I am an orphan. Even saying it out loud still seems strange, as if I am talking about someone else.
For even as someone who has seen more than 60 summers, how can I possibly be nobody's child anymore? Yet here I am staring straight down the barrel of the mortality gun with no parents to protect me, to so willingly take the hit, as they always did, on my behalf.
Now, my mother was obviously no spring chicken. When I tell people that her death was unexpected I'm usually then asked what age she was.
"Almost 99," I say. And they say: "Unexpected?!" But the truth is that it was.
She had developed mobility problems from arthritis in the few years since my father's death in 2015 and was also becoming more forgetful but, largely, Marion was still her force-to-be-reckoned-with self.
It's hard to be a 60-something orphan. People tell me that I was "lucky to have her for so long", that she had "a great innings", that it was "her time". (I know what she'd say about that. As a woman who called the shots all her life she'd be more than dismissive of someone else telling her that her time was up.)
I sometimes think she's still here. Only a couple of weeks ago I went to pick up the phone to ring her. Just before Christmas I got halfway to the till in Marks & Spencer with a blouse in my hand that was just her style.
But she's not here. She's gone. And a year on, it's still strange and sobering to find myself adrift in a world without a parent to turn to. Yes, my name is Roslyn, and I am an orphan.