July 17, 2025

I left my apartment on Van Buren Street on the morning of July 1st. Ryan came over the week before my move and helped me pack. Iowa was a great place to live, but I was finally ready to move someplace where I can actually have a life and a successful career. Obviously, Chicago was the place since Hilda’s clothing brand, “Rose” had its headquarters. Her main store is opening in the Gold Coast area soon.

Ryan insisted on coming over to help me load up the moving truck but I didn’t let him. I still wanted to see him, so I invited him over to keep me company while I emptied my room. Taking everything out of my drawers and closet and packing them in boxes, I soon ran out of space. Only a few items remained unpacked, though, so I filled one of them with more weight than it could handle that its bottom immediately ripped open as soon as I lifted it, letting out everything in it. I freaked out when I spotted Tye’s wallet which I’ve been hoarding since the night of the attack. I heard Ryan come to check on me, so I immediately grabbed it and shoved it in my jeans’ back pocket.

Ryan who always seemed to be in high spirits was now in the worst state of his life. I couldn’t stand the sight of his disease mercilessely ravaging him. His deterioration was rubbing off on me — setting a tricking fear in my head.

In order to do survive through his illness, one had to give himself the full physical and mental attention. Positivity, being surrounded by good friends and family as well as constantly taking the medication prescribed by doctors were the main things that needed to be maintained to live a full life. Ryan wasn’t interested in any of that. He never streak me as the kind of guy who would give up, though. He was always a fighter, so the reason he stopped taking care of himself is beyond me. However, I had a feeling it would come to this. With everything he’s been through, it’s only normal to crack under the pressure and abandon all hope. He barely has a family, his boyfriend killed himself, and having his own tattoo parlor ended up not being as fulfilling as he hoped it would be.

I took one last nostalgic glimpse at home before I once again moved, the goodbye feeling as strangely unfulfilling as when I moved away from Freiburg. Then, Ryan made it worse. He updated me on his health saying that the doctors are now looking at six months. He’s become frail and too weak to even stand up properly; he was so pale he looked already dead. He leaned in and hugged me, his withering neck resting on my shoulder felt boney. I could smell the dryness and unpleasant scent of his mouth thrush.

As the taxi drove off, I turned and waved at him goodbye. I wondered if I’d ever see him alive again; thinking about that quickly turned my stomach. I rested my head on the headrest, untangled my headphone cords and inserted them into my ears. I tried to let myself go, but something was holding me back. The thought of Ryan dying opened up a devastating wound: Robert’s death. I can’t stand the idea of losing another best friend. Then again, I haven’t been there for him as much as I would’ve liked to, so I have no right to feel the way I feel. The pain I’ve caused, although unbeknown to him, is truly searing.

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