Only I Remain

August 1, 2018

Dear Grandma,

Since you’ve been gone, a lot has happened. I met the beast you called Despair, but she doesn’t come around much anymore. Maybe I was already too melancholy. Or maybe she couldn’t steal my hope because what little I had left with you. Whatever the reason, she is gone

No, the beast that stalks me is Fear. Raw, splintered, crippling Fear. The world is a scary place without you, Grandma, for Fear can assault you at any time, for any reason. Fear makes every friend an enemy and every safe place a prision. Fear puts a veil over reality so that you are trapped in an oubliette of horror from which there is no escape. Where Fear is, trust is impossible and sanity is an illusion.

I cannot fight Fear. I cannot guard, deflect, hide, or run from it, for Fear is always with me, wherever I am, whoever I am with. There is no reason or logic to counter its attacks, for Fear annihilates all rationality.  

I can feel when Fear is coming for me. It rises up from inside, some unholy spirit, stalking me in my own mind, blinding me with madness, gripping my heart inside my chest. It HURTS. It hurts when my heart beats. My fingers are going numb. I’ve been shaking already, but now it’s so bad… It’s trying to paralyze me! I’m starting to lose my breath. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe! Help me. Someone! Anyone! I need you to help me breathe. There is no escape. It will never be over. I will never be free.

But arms go around me and hold me together, and I feel someone’s chest expanding slowly, evenly, then out, so slow. Even though my own breath is ragged and too too fast, I try to match the slow, even, rhythm. It’s like being held by the ocean. In, 2, 3, 4. Out, 2, 3, 4. The waves come in; the waves goes out.

I remember a fragment of a book I once read. Even if I am remembering it wrong, even if my voice hisses through my rattling teeth, I whisper into the nightmare:

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little death.

I will let it pass through me.

And when it is gone,

Only I will remain.

I am sane again, but for how long? Soon Fear will try again (tomorrow, sunday, next week, now?) but for the moment, it’s like a sunrise.

But Fear has taught me something too, and the lesson is this: All things end. And when the things that need ending seem to go on forever, such as our fine frienemies, I find that thought a great comfort. As you say, Grandma, “This too shall pass.”

I hope the cardinal who came to greet me this morning bears this message to you safely on those little red wings of Hope.

As for me, I will go on remaining until I, too, come to an end.

Keep the coffee hot and the piano tuned.






I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear – From Frank Herbert’s Dune Book Series
© 1965 and 1984 Frank Herbert
Published by Putnam Pub Group
ISBN: 0399128964

5 responses to “Only I Remain

  1. Sweet Sarah! I immediately had to read what you had written. You somehow put thoughts and feelings to paper that I can relate to. Words to describe feelings so exactly! I feel I can breathe as there is one who understands. Thank you sweet lady.

    Liked by 1 person

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