Tami peers through the half-closed blind.
A tranquil sea of blue greets her from the street, spotted with bright spots of pink and purple school bags. Here and there girls can be seen skipping along briskly, two girls whispering secrets to one another, while another girl stands, uncertain, gazing at her watch. Perhaps she’s forgotten her sandwich at home. Behind her, she can hear the usual morning sounds: her mother hurrying Sheri out of the house to take little Miri to nursery school and urging the boys in a whisper to drink their chocolate milk quickly and not to forget to take a bottle of water to school, it’s hot today, trying to make sure that her whisper does not reach Tami’s ears. But Tami can hear, she always hears. She glances behind her and sees her father pause as he collects what is needed for the clinic, looking at her , as always, trying desperately to make things as smooth as possible for her, but with little success.
She runs her tongue over her parched lips, attempting to ease the unremitting feeling of thirst.
From the window, she spots her friend Shani, walking hand-in-hand with Racheli, the girl who recently took over her place in the front row. “The teacher said that it’s a shame for the best place to be empty all the time,” Shani told her innocently, “so she moved Racheli over to sit by me. You’re not angry, are you?”
Right. She’s not angry. Who should she be angry with? She, a seven-year-old girl, has to report to the dialysis clinic every other day for three hours of treatment, after which she has no strength for anything, for anything at all. Even to make up for missed school work, which no one brings round any more. So why should she mind if Racheli sits there?
Now her throat is hurting and her eyes are stinging. She moves away from the window quickly. So that Shani shouldn’t see that she saw her. She doesn’t want to see anyone anymore.
It all started a year ago, at kindergarten. She was ill with a virus, so her mother said, with diarrhea and vomiting. She felt terrible. Since then, her entire life has changed – her kidney was affected and completely stopped functioning. Her mother has explained to her how the dialysis machine works and how much it helps her, but she hates it. They have to jab her with a thick, thick needle, through which all of her blood leaves and enters the body and is cleaned. But she doesn’t feel any healthier when she’s attached to it. Sometimes she feels so dizzy that the whole world seems to be spinning around, even when she shuts her eyes
But if that were all, it would be bearable.
She knows that it’s even harder for her parents than for herself. They are trying to help but can’t. Sometimes even she can’t take any more and lies on the floor, kicking her legs. What does she want? To go to an amusement park? A new dress? Just a small glass of water…one sip of cold water to revive her on a blistering hot day. Her mother tries to hide her tears and turns up the air conditioner to try and ease her discomfort. She wets her parched lips and says: “Hang in there, honey…pray that they’ll find you a donor… your prayers are bound to help.”
And they did.
Her prayers helped with the help of many people.
She met Rabbi Heber of Matnat Chaim once, and her mother told her that he was once like her, on dialysis, but not now. He received a new kidney, a healthy functioning kidney…”I wish that I had one too…one kidney, just one!”
And now she has been given one…
She puts her pink, fragrant school bag on her shoulder. It’s still almost new…She hurries so as not to be late for school, and her mother reminds her: “Tami, what about your chocolate milk?”
She waves goodbye to her cheerfully and is ready to join the surging sea of girls outside.
Then she pauses for a moment and turns around.
“Mommy,” she whispers and her mother turns around to her, “Yes, Tami?”
“Can I ask for another one?”
“Another drink?” her mother hazards a guess.
“No, another kidney,” Tami explains: “I want a kidney for myself and another one to donate to someone else.”