Yesterday, Ryan collapsed in his kitchen where his mom found him unconscious in a pool of blood dripping from his head injury. I went to visit him at the hospital in Iowa as soon as I heard about the incident.
When I arrived, I saw his mother walking out of his room. I’ve never met her before, but she seemed too upset, so I didn’t stop to say hi and kept walking instead. When I stepped inside Ryan’s room, I was surprised to see Lee feeding him some dried fruit; I haven’t seen her since forever. We caught up and when Ryan was done eating she was kind enough to step out of the room and give us some privacy. There was a long silence before he finally turned to me while avoiding meeting my eyes and asked me how I’ve been. I gave him a very short answer, trying not to rub the success my current life had brought me in his face. I didn’t want him to feel any worse about his situation. I held his hand for a while, and we both watched the sun slowly set behind the buildings barely visible in the distance. It was a bittersweet but beautiful moment until he uttered the words, “I’m going to die soon.” In a split second, I was put in an unsettling mood. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such obscene words coming from him. However, I don’t think anyone going through what he’s going through can still maintain an optimistic view of life. I didn’t want to tell him that wasn’t going to happen because I knew how bad his condition was, so I kept quiet. I will never understand why he let himself go like that. He was always the one to fight; he did it for so many years. Two nurses interrupted our moment to announce that the visiting hours were over, and that I had to leave. It was a good excuse for me to rush out of the room before I broke down and cried in front of him. I just couldn’t see him like that. Before leaving, I kissed his forehead.
When I got back to the hotel, I felt so paranoid of being contaminated by his disease in some mysterious way, so I jumped in the shower and scrubbed my body and washed my mouth various times, all that while feeling so ashamed and relieved at the same time. Although me and Ryan were bound by friendship, I just didn’t want to share the same devastating fate.