April 24, 2025

Forgetting things is common. It happens to everyone almost everyday. We forget where we put our car keys or our wallet. We forget about our doctor’s appointment. We forget to pay our bills. It’s perfectly normal. No matter how careful, meticulous and organized we are, it will happen even to the best of us at some point. But when forgetting becomes a major part of our lives where usual daily activities can’t be properly met, that’s when we have to worry. Humans take a lot of things for granted, and sometimes we fall into this state of mind where we think pain and tragedy will never happen to us because of our high sense of self. We forget that there are no guarantees in life and that things can take a turn for the worst in a split second.

On our way back from Dallas last week, Ryan couldn’t remember how to get to the highway. I didn’t make a big deal out of it at first and relied on the GPS to get us on it and back to Iowa. But when he couldn’t remember the way to his place when we made it to the city, that’s when I started to get nervous. I looked at him and he was so tired, and I wanted to believe the lack of sleep took away his focus, and that he was fine. But I knew for a fact that he wasn’t doing well, and I wasn’t going to be in denial about that just to convince myself otherwise. Problem is, how do I express my concerns to him, and suggest he sees a doctor so we both know what he’s really dealing with? Cognitive impairment isn’t unusual among men with HIV. And Ryan getting older actually increases the risk, especially since after Tye died, he’s been on antidepressant medications and almost totally neglecting his HIV treatment.

Before I met Ryan, there was a gap in my life that only our friendship managed to fill. I could trust him no matter what, and we always found comfort in one another. Even with all the bumps that we had to face throughout the years, we still managed to hold on to our friendship. He took away a big part of my loneliness. I’m afraid of losing this overly confident, smart and funny guy. This guy I’ve always looked up to. I’m afraid of being alone again. The idea of his forgetfulness increasing to the point it would affect our relationship caused me to feel an indescribable amount of tremendous stress. Imagine talking to a person who’s slowly fading away. It’s worse than death. And what if cognitive impairment develops into something much worse? Like Dementia? How strong do I have to be to take care of him? Ryan has absolutely no one in his life right now. All he has is me, and me, him. I have to pay the price for my utter selfishness. I can’t help but hold myself accountable for his unhappiness and misfortune.

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