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"If my boyfriend isn't dead," I announced to more than one co-worker on Wednesday, "I'm going to kill him."

His mother called me, asking whether he was OK. Apparently, he had called her phone multiple times, and she was concerned.

Well, immediately so was I. With my combination of active imagination and high anxiety, I am what is clinically referred to as a paranoid nitwit. I typically answer the phone with "Are you OK?" Unless it's really late. Then I say, "Who died?"

So I called my boyfriend. Every five minutes. For two hours. Like I said, paranoid nitwit.

There are, of course, plenty of logical reasons why he might not have been picking up his phone. And selfishly, I'd hope that if he were lying in a ditch or gutter somewhere, bleeding, and he had the ability to make a phone call, he'd call me. Pragmatically, I'd hope that if he called his mother from the gutter, he'd leave a message.

Chances were good that everything was fine. The sane part of my brain recognized this.

But the less sane portion was saying ... maybe he was hit by a bus and someone found his phone and tried to call the contact that said "Mom." That makes sense, right? How would some stranger know that "Holly" translates to "person who needs to be called in the event of catastrophe or disaster?"

I wanted to call his mother back to see if he'd called her again, but I didn't want to worry her.

What if he is really hurt? Then what? This is where my mind goes. Ignorance versus self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the struggle I had when I was deciding whether to get elective cancer insurance. If I get the insurance, I asked myself, would I be welcoming cancer to invade me? Or if I don't get the insurance, am I being arrogant, saying that I believe I'm invincible and therefore leaving me vulnerable to attack?

If there really was an emergency, I fretted, is it somehow related to me not being respectful enough about the fragile nature of life? Being demanding during a conversation we had earlier in the day? Berating him for any number of things and not appreciating him enough?

Worry is a sickness. Truly. I'm probably going to have a massive coronary by the time I'm 40. I've called hospitals when friends aren't where they say they'll be. I was the only twentysomething I knew of who would sometimes berate her parents for not calling when they arrived home from an evening out. My kids are going to have LoJack transmitters installed on their bodies.

I finally heard from my boyfriend. Bad reception and low phone battery were to blame, he said. He graciously accepted my threats on his life, since I knew it was accounted for.

"It makes me feel good that you care so much about me," he said. "It's a nice contrast to your usual bossiness." That last part was tongue-in-cheek, but he's not wrong. I'm totally bossy. This is the lot he's chosen, having me as a partner. We all take on certain burdens when we choose to share a life with someone else. Worrying too much about the people I love is the least of my faults. Trust me, I have plenty.

Fortunately, I'm OK with admitting to my flaws. I think there's a certain value in being aware of your faults. It's the only way to try to change. And even more fortunately, he loves me, (worry)warts and all. Makes me want to be better than I am.

Of course, I don't imagine I'll ever not being something of a worrier. But if I can push that heart attack back to 45, that would be a start.

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