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  • The morning had started as usual for a Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the early alarm, splash in the shower, drink and dress, and grab the bag and go! All done within thirty minutes. She set off out of town and over the Downs to the hospital.

    The first inkling that the day was auspicious came when she saw fresh rays of sun peeping up from the hills and through the wintry mists. The dawn! It was the first time she had seen daylight penetrate the dark on these near daily drives. She felt buoyed by the light and cheered by the random radio chattersong as she pulled in to park in her place.

    Her habit was to draw a deep breath before opening the door to the ward. ‘Hello, good morning, how are you’, went the round of greetings, and then the routine exchanges that built on their familial bond. She settled down to business: lining, priming and programming her machine alongside her comrades.

    Young Dean came in, ‘Did you hear about Tom? You know – Tom? He died, man. I can’t believe it I just dialysed next to him Monday. It’s a reminder of where we’re all at, you know what I’m saying?’

    ‘Oh no that’s sad, he wasn’t that old’, replied Jane, who was already reclining in chair ready for action. Dean walked over to Jane’s space and said ‘I tell you it’s coming for me, I can feel it’. Nobody said anything because there was nothing easy to say. They had all born witness to Dean’s daily decline, seen his suffering and sapping strength over recent months.

    Dean continued, ’I tell you nobody, not anyone, knows what it's like for us lot, even the nurses get holidays! But we are always here. Ah well Jane what can you do? You got to laugh!’

    ‘That’s right Dean if we didn’t laugh we would cry innit. We got to just keep going mate’ she said. Then they laughed together in the face of their ill fate and their laughter was that of life-long allies. It rippled through the room.

    All eight comrades-in-arms were waiting when the nurses returned from handover, ready to be needled. ‘What a lovely little fistula!’ exclaimed nurse Mercy as she sharped arm after arm, hooking up the dependents to dialyse the day away.

    Come elevensies the room slowly stirred again after the torpor of four hours quiet time. Jane is sitting up now and Sam is cutting tape with one hand, all getting ready to get off dialysis. Nurse Kay walks purposefully into the room and suddenly all eight are alert, watching this woman who hushedly mutters her news to the nurses before turning and facing the room. ‘Who has she come to see?’ speak the eyes of the living dead. The transplant co-ordinator comes over to one, was she the lucky one?

    ‘I have the results of your cross match’, she says, eyes kind and knowing. ‘The result you wanted: negative’.

    That word opened a way out of that world: a potential transformative transplant. Mindful not to let her gleam of hope hurt the others she soaked up the news calmly. Later, the clocking off parting calls –

    ‘Bye Jane, bye Sam, bye Dean, bye Mercy, see y’all Friday’
    ‘Yes love, see you Friday – enjoy your day off!’
    ‘Yes, you too’, she said, and walked out into the new day.
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