Patient number six has passed away. Might even have been number seven. I call him patient number six because of the bed he was in. Before him auntie Nada left

us, a noisy, heavyset woman with thick grey hair. She had a son who was a military pilot, who had never married. She was very proud of him, and rightly so. Mica was next, a tiny, quiet woman, pretty as a picture. She gave me a granola bar my first dialysis. And the one after that, and every session we had together until she passed. It was her little ritual. She left us quietly, just drifted away, even though she’d just become a grandmother of two wonderful twins.

Two commiserating women, who would tell each other what they’ve been cooking on the days when they didn’t have dialysis, what her son Miša said, and how Mica’s husband’s car broke down. One day, they just weren’t there. Nobody told us anything, a silent murmur swept through the room, like a cold tidal wave. Cancer. 

A few days ago, the room was silent. All 255 minutes, silent. Highly unusual, usually Mirko would break into song a few times during our session. He’d always sing the same lyric at the top of his lungs. He could talk about fishing for ages. Everything bothered him: he was too hot, he was too cold, there wasn’t enough light to read the newspaper… Sometimes, at random he’d yell YABBADABBADOO as loud as he could. He was afraid of blood and needles, and was very vocal when voicing his opposition to any changes of the established procedures. That’s what happened this time as well, as he shrieked his lyric in a way I now realise was dramatic. He died that evening. 

I miss them. New patients are arriving, and no one talks about the ones who left us. I guess that those who remain feel better if they don’t even mention them. I don’t. My friends are going away, and I’m waiting for my turn.

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