"Mommy, I don't want you to die before me".
Tears are streaming down his face. He is unable to look at me. He is almost unable to talk, the words are coming out in choked up tears and from behind his hands.
"I want us all to die together. I don't want you to leave me.
I don't ever want to go on an airplane. I might fall out."
He is starting to hyperventilate.
"What if we go off a bridge in our car? What if there is a driver coming towards us? A bad driver. And he pushes us off the bridge and you can't get me."
He has buried himself in my chest. I can feel his heart pounding.
"What if there is a fire in our house? In my room and you die trying to get to me?"
The words start coming even more furiously, more urgently.
"What if a robber comes and kidnaps me? What if he looks like you and I don't know he is a stranger?"
I try to reassure him without letting him hear the fear in my own voice. I tell him he will be safe, forever. That I will keep him safe. I make up a special phrase that only he, his brother and I know. I tell him he can ask me to say it anytime and know that I am his real mother. I have to tell him I will not die before him, that we will all go to Heaven together. All of us. Even Chewie and Owen. He does not understand any other alternative. His mind cannot process the thought of being here in this world without me.
The Fear comes out of nowhere. But it always comes, and I don't know who is more impaired by it each time, him or me.
I sit here now, John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" playing in the background. The song we played at his Christening. The song I sang to him as I put him to bed each night as a baby. The lyrics I know by heart and make me smile to think of him every time I hear it.
I turn my back to them so they can't see my tears. I am so grateful his friend showed up when he did to distract us both. He is smiling now, but his eyes are still bright red.
I feel sick to my stomach. I know my words did nothing to reassure either one of us.
This distraction will be fleeting. The Fear will be back. And although I can protect my son from strangers, bad drivers and fires, I know that I cannot protect him from his own anxiety.
That is my own biggest fear.