Sometimes it's a dull ache, a tug at your heart when you find yourself in the middle of a pickup game of basketball in the driveway. When your 6 year old asks you to be on his team (the good team, as he calls it) and orders his dad and younger brother to be players on the bad team. You realize this isn't the way the teams should be at all.
It should be boys against girls.
Addie and me (with a little help from Lands) vs. Scott, Isaac and Tripp.
Sometimes the pain is piercing.
A gaggle of girls at the mall. Giggling, smiling, texting. Walking in and out of Justice.
And sometimes the pain is unbearable.
Like when you decide to go through the two-inch medical chart that details the last six days of your daughter's life.
It arrived Saturday.
I'd requested it a few weeks ago, along with Tripp's immunization records for preschool.
Part one arrived last week and included a record of every doctor visit from birth to age 9. I glanced through that stack briefly, settling on a piece of paper from her kindergarten physical.
Spelled out in her very best 5-year-old handwriting. And next to her name, a smiley face and a square.
I couldn't help but smile at the smiley face and remember that particular trip to the doctor and our stop at Goodrich dairy after it was all over.
But Saturday's stack wasn't quite so smiley.
Not at all.
First, a form filled out in my handwriting.
How do you know your child is in pain?
"She gets quiet. Tears," I had written.
What concerns does your child have?
"How long we're going to be here."
And there were others too.
Concerns you won't find in any chart.
She wondered what her friends would think. And so, in the early morning hours we went through each friend and considered them one by one. And each one came out as a good friend and good friends don't think anything - except how they can help.
I wondered about the chemo.
And whether I should be in the room when it was administered.
When a nurse comes in wearing nothing short of a haz-mat suit, you do kind of wonder what effects that could have on your unborn child.
And the child that's lying in the hospital bed.
There were concerns about a heart beating way too fast, way too hard. Concerns we voiced.
And then a half-dozen people tearing into her hospital room and me demanding, "What the hell is going on?"
There was the waiting, the waiting, the waiting, for an elevator that seemed to take a million years to get there (when in all actuality it was probably mere seconds).
There was a team of ICU doctors doing the best they could. An intensivist barking out orders, yet functioning as the calm in the storm.
And someone, tapping me on the shoulder, explaining that we could stay here in the hallway or go to the waiting room.
Us. Stranded, our legs in cement.
Blood pressure, dangerously low.
A doctor telling us a machine that would give her heart, her lungs, and kidneys a must-needed rest was our only option.
Making it through the night.
A doctor telling us our child would die.
Our families crumpling inside themselves.
Making it through another night.
Two blinks from my sweet baby girl.
A heart soaring.
And the next day, breaking.
These are the things you won't find in the chart.
It's filled with numbers, either dangerously low or dangerously high. Medical terms I was barely beginning to grasp. Notes. Evidence of the great lengths those doctors and nurses went to in order to save Addie's life.
Two inches worth.
It's up on a shelf now. There if I want to look at it, but in the basement and a little more of a bother to get to.
Sometimes I feel like I need to put my feelings on a shelf. A place to set them while I make lunch, knowing full well they'll be there waiting for me when the table's cleared.
Sometimes I do.
But I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put those six days anywhere.
I sure wish I could.
Because living there, in the thick of it all, I get to feel my heart break all over again.