A fire clenches my throat, burning up through my eyes. Tears fight to fall but I keep them trapped within. He continues to reason with me. The words he offers up are full of logic and sense but they might as well be gibberish for all the good they do me. No amount or logic or reason can quell the fires of fear that have welled up within me.

He holds me and I feel safe. Reassured by his presence I begin calm. The hysterics fade to muffled sobs to quiet. In his arms, trite as it sounds, I feel safe and secure. His arms a fortress to protect me from the pain of the world.

Still, deep within the fear lingers. Pushed down and covered up but never gone, the fear and pain live on.

I watch each day as his condition grows worse. I watch as he grows more tired. His days are full of pain that doesn’t end and doctors with no answers. Doctors who lie and leave out vital truth. Doctors who offer no treatment or relief. It feels as though we are adrift in the ocean of disease with no hope in sight and no one to help us find the shore.

As I write these words, fire once again grips my throat. Tears well up that I mustn’t shed.

Fear lies behind the fire. Fear of possibilities. Fear of unknowns. Fear spurred on by a mind catastrophizing.

It is the fear that he will die. Of course I know that everyone dies and that we could all go at any time, but an early death seems too real a possibility. We know not what is wrong and thus have no way to treat him or know what may lie ahead. How many years do we have left? 1? 5? 10? Will it ever be enough?

He is my best friend and partner. He is the rock to which I cling when the storms of my mind threaten to drag me under. He is my social compass, helping navigate a social world in which I am a stranger. He pulls me back from the brink of sanity and keeps me grounded. He is my biggest support and my beloved.

What will I do if I outlive him? He voices confidence that I will be resilient, that I will go on and find happiness and love again. I fear a life of institutionalization without him. They never thought I’d make it this far. My adolescent psychiatrist admitted she never expected me to make it through a year of college, let alone a degree. Institutionalization was a real possibility for my future, and could be again.

These fears lurk deep within. Unable to be reasoned with or persuaded by logic, these fears lie in wait until my mind is quiet and weak. Fears I dared not voice until last night. Fears that have not been assuaged. Fears that live on as I question if he will.