Written by Rach because I was in an angst filled mood, so I went back to my favorite way of writing, 2nd person.
I wanted you to be everything to me
Now I've got to learn to carry on
RI know I cannot hide this emptiness inside
But nothing is the same since you've gone
Send me letters from above
Send me strength, send me love
Such sweet love
Sing me songs that echo in my head and in my heart
That's where you are
And I don't know if you feel me here
I can tell you one thing that's clear
I will feel you...
I will feel you
Addison is the first to place feet on the plush carpet every morning, tiptoeing to the nursery to check on a still sleeping thirteen month old before walking down the hallway and peering into the slightly opened door and smiling at the rhythmic rise and fall of the two sleeping girls. She leaves them be to start the coffee maker and place batter in the waffle iron and insists that the girls' day begins with breakfast before all else, where fingers sticky with syrup have only pajamas to wreak their havoc on.
She knows to wake four year old Eden by gently running her hand through bright locks tangled from the tossing that accompanies dreams of graceful ballerinas while murmuring a soft "wake up sleepyhead" until tired eyes open and lips curl in a smile. She knows to use a different tactic with seven year old Ava, placing butterfly kisses on the child's cheek before pulling the pink quilt from the girl's grasp and lifting it off of her. She knows to give the girl a chance to wake up on her own, "time to wake up, sweetie" and she also knows that this never works so she turns the light on and without a blanket to shield from, the second grader reluctantly sits up and pouts, blinking her eyes.
She does the girls' hair as they eat breakfast, having perfected the act of releasing tangles without causing pain(Eden disagrees), braiding while the four year old fidgets, and making sure Ava has first choice of color when it comes to accessories. She bounces a crying Sadie on her hip until tears disappear as she clears the table of the syrup mess that comes with waffles and having clothes picked out the night before, it's your job to make sure the girls are dressed after washing hands and brushing teeth. She places snacks into backpacks and grabs lunchboxes from the refrigerator(Ava's simply purple and Eden's Hello Kitty).
You're instructed to dress Sadie as Addison helps Eden with shoes, attempting to teach her the rules to laces. In a whirlwind of kisses, goodbyes, and "Don't forget your lunch," she rushes Ava and Eden out the door, leaving you to take a now crying one year old to the daycare at Seattle Grace. This is your routine. This was your routine, you correct.
Addison's kisses can instantly heal all scrapes and bruises, make tears cease. Her words can stop a tantrum in the grocery store, and soothe all of your girls to sleep. She knows the right things to do, to say. She knows how to answer the big questions(Where do babies come from?) and place punishments that aren't met with screams of "that's not fair!"
She knows how to do this. It's her thing and as much as you love your girls, you know that your skills are nothing compared to hers. You know that a hug is the best way to handle a crying Eden. You know a chocolate chip cookie makes Ava's fight with best friend Layla disappear. You know that there's a special way to rock Sadie when she's fussy though you haven't perfected it. You know the simple things but she's a natural and thinks of things you never would, checking the girls' closet when new puppy, Charlie disappeared one morning and finding Eden trying to slip the animal into her backpack who insisted the dog go with her for show and tale purposes, and when you asked Addison how she knew, she simply said she saw a look in the little girl's eyes the night before when you asked her what she was taking to show her class.
You watch as Ava helps a teary eyed Eden tie her shoes and hear her scream at the four year old when she pulls it off as soon as it is finally placed on her wiggling foot.
"I can't do it, daddy," Ava looks at you, defeated, tears that she tried to hold back now falling freely. "Only Mommy can."
You place the inconsolable baby in her swing and make your way to the now sobbing four year old giving a glance to her older sister, "You did good. Can you get my phone for me?"
Ava wipes at her eyes and walks out of the room, leaving you with the sound of crying from the two younger redheads.
"Kiddo, you have to leave the shoes on. We have to go." You try once again to slide it on and tie it, but she immediately grabs at it until it's once again loose from her foot. "Eden, please keep your shoes on. Daddy needs to work." You try to keep your frustration from the preschooler, but the piercing cries from the swing and the minutes passing by are making it hard. "Why are you doing this?" You find yourself whispering as tears burn your eyes.
"I want Mommy," and it's all you can do not to scream as she is now pulling the socks from her feet as well.
"Eden, put them on now!" You've never screamed at her, not with actual anger, short 'No's' and 'Move out of the way' when playing too close to a road, but never for something as trivial as shoes and you watch her lip quiver and face turn to shock.
"It's the seams."
You look up from your spot on the floor in front of the weeping girl and see Ava holding your phone out. "What?"
"They need to be on top. When you put her shoes on, it pulls them. Only Mommy knows how to fix it."
You run a hand through your hair. "Please get her sandals, Ava." You take the phone from the girl who looks too much like her mother for comfort and press '3.'
"But I don't want to leave and it's cold. She can't go outside without socks. Mommy never lets us. She'll get sick."
"I know, just…please, Ava." You watch her walk out of the room and hear her feet on the stairs as the phone connects. "Derek, I can't, it's too hard." You whisper as you pull the still whimpering four year old in your lap and offer your arms that are distinctly different from Addison's but you hope warm enough to stop her tears. You don't wait for a reply as you throw the phone to the floor and run your hands through the girl's hair, pulling her even closer and enveloping her small body in your arms, more for your comfort than hers and when you feel her breathing slow down, you can tell that you are somewhat calmer now too.
When your oldest daughter returns, you place the white sandals on without argument and then turn your attention to the red faced girl who's cried non-stop for the past hour, despite doing the jiggle and the wave, which you've watched Addison do and succeed at hundreds of times. Her cries only increase in frequency when you lift her in your arms and walk around the room. You try to hold her as Addison would but the distinct lack of hips makes it as uncomfortable for Sadie as it is for you so you shift her to your chest.
All hopes of leaving the house, taking all three girls to day care, and burying your misery in a facelift disappear when you hear the door open and see Derek and two people you're sure have never stepped into this house since you bought it eight years ago. They're carrying grocery bags and Derek points toward the kitchen.
You can hear music growing louder from upstairs and know that Ava's trying to block out the wails of her baby sister, or those of her own, but you're in no shape to deal with that. "What are they doing here?" You try to speak over the red infant.
"Yang brought alcohol and Meredith told me that George is good with babies and with the screaming I heard over the phone."
He doesn't finish his sentence and you look at him disbelieving.
"Everyone else was either working or on call and I caught them leaving the hospital."
You shift Sadie to your shoulder and sway in hopes of calming her as Derek shrugs.
"You needed help."
"What tipped you off?" You let the bitterness out and welcome the new flood of emotions that come with anger. "I can't!" You scream. "I can't listen to her cry anymore." You hold the child out, and wait for Derek to take her but he refuses. "I don't want to see the look on Eden's face or hear Ava say what I'm doing wrong because I fucking know I'm a screw up, Derek. I don't need my daughter telling me that Mommy is better because I know! Addison is fucking Supermom and I can't even get the baby to stop crying."
You hold Sadie out once more and when Derek refuses again, George O'Malley reaches his hands out and takes the baby, turning and leaving the room with eyes cast downward.
"They deserve better than this. They don't need a dad that doesn't know what he's doing. They need someone that can make everything better, someone that doesn't get angry and scream at them over fucking shoes." You're still screaming and you hope that the music blaring is drowning out everything you're saying because the last thing you need to hear is 'Mommy said you're not supposed to say that word.' Your voice drops to a whisper and you fall to the couch as tears pour from your eyes, "They need her. She's their mother."
You can't bring yourself to speak in past tense. It makes it too permanent, too real. You can't wrap your mind around the fact that you are now living in a city where Addison doesn't, walking the earth when she isn't given that privilege anymore. You refuse to believe that a strong, brilliant mother, wife, and surgeon was taken from this world simply because a man wanted the two-hundred dollars in her purse.
"You want to wallow in misery, feel horrible, mourn, that's fine. It's justified and anyone else would feel the same, but there are three little girls that are depending on you now. They just lost one of the two most important people in their lives. It's you Mark. You're all they have and it's not ideal, but they can't be punished because some son of a bitch saw Addison's expensive heels and decided she'd be an easy target."
You stand, not able to listen to anything involving the man that stole her from you, so close that you should have been able to stop it but instead were making sure an eighteen year old got the breasts her father was willing to pay for. "I'll be back," you promise. "I swear I won't be gone long. Just take care of my girls, Derek."
You walk to the foyer and open the door but before you can leave, you feel small arms wrap around you.
"Please daddy, we'll be quiet. You can't leave, please, daddy. I don't want you to go to work. You can't go to the hospital!"
You manage to pull away from Ava's grasp and bend down to her level. "I'll be back. I promise." You push a stray hair from her face and realize the matted red curls haven't been brushed in over twenty-four hours and you feel even worse. "Stay with Uncle Derek."
"No, you can't go." Her arms move around your neck and she hold you to the point of almost choking you. "I'll make Sadie stop crying. Please don't go, Daddy."
"Ava, I have to. I'll be back in a few hours, I promise." You try to ease her away from you.
"No, you can't! He'll get you."
"Who?" You pull her arms away and look into the child's eyes, her eyes.
"The man that got Mommy. He's probly waiting for you at the hospital. You can't go." You feel her small body cover yours and feel the sobs shaking her body.
"Hey," You stand up, lifting her with you. "The bad man is in jail. The police are going to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone ever again."
"But what if he gets out?" You're sure you've never seen her eyes so full of fear. "Please don't leave me, daddy."
You guide her head to the crook of your neck and place a kiss in her hair. "Okay, baby, I won't leave. I'll never leave you, I promise." You know it's a stupid thing to promise because a drunk driver could pound into your car tomorrow night and you'd have no say in the matter, but you have to think that fate is on your side in this, that God wouldn't allow you to be taken from these three girls, not after their world has been torn down around them.
When you carry Ava into the kitchen, realizing that the girls haven't even eaten this morning, you take note of Cristina Yang sitting at your kitchen table, Eden in her lap, talking in a way that always makes you laugh and have to tell her to slow down and start over. You're surprised by the way the young doctor keeps up, shaking her head at the right parts, and throwing in a 'seriously' when appropriate. You know Eden doesn't fully understand what's happening though you explained two nights ago that Mommy is now an angel that is watching over her and her sisters(and you too, you hope) and it's nice to see her smile amidst the tears and worry.
You can still hear Sadie's cries from the nursery as you try to recall the exact ingredients that go into the waffle batter and when you aren't sure, you pour way too many chocolate chips, hoping that those will distract the girls from the waffles that are definitely "Not Mommy's."
You grab a comb and brush(Which one does Addison use?) and red ribbon(Will that match?) and attempt to braid Ava's hair as she eats just as Addison does, but her loud protests over bites of waffle(You got the waffle speech anyways) force you to drop the comb and fall into a chair opposite your daughters. In a matter of seconds Eden's crawling into your lap and places a hand on your forehead and you watch thankfully as Yang dutifully grabs the comb and separates Ava's hair and begins to braid with ease.
"Are you sad 'cause you feel icky, daddy?" You feel her small arms wrap around your neck. "I'll be doctor like mommy so I can make you all better." Her head tips up and she cocks it to the side. "Is Mommy helping the sick babies today?"
Any other time, you'd smile at her and ask why she wouldn't want to be a doctor like daddy and you'd hear some sort of "That's silly daddy, you're a boy" speech. Now, though, you don't have the strength to smile."We talked about this, baby."
You want more than anything to not have this conversation again. It was unbearable the first time. Another and you're not certain you can keep your emotions in check.
"But she was a angel yesterday." When Eden pouts, you try not to cry because she thinks it's something as simple as Addison missing out on a bedtime story when surgery and sick babies have to take precedent.
"I know but when you become an angel, you have to stay an angel."
Her nose crinkles and she stares at you. "Why?"
The question you were dreading because how can you explain to a four old why her mother was taken when you still don't understand why you will never have blankets pulled from your body mid-slumber, or hear that laugh again.
You run a hand over your tired face and feel the small girl being lifted from your arms and replaced with the smallest one. Yang is awkwardly holding the preschooler and begins to speak, crossing the room so that she's sitting with both girls listening as you watch an exasperated George whisper his apology to you for being unable to quiet the the infant.
"My dad di…became an angel when I was about your age," she glanced at Ava. "He didn't come back." Her look switched to the younger girl. "But he's with me because I'm a part of him, so you know what?"
"What?" You hear Eden ask.
"Your mom is with you right here and she'll be there forever, so you can talk whenever you feel sad and she'll hear you."
"No matter where I am?" Ava asks, raising an eyebrow with skepticism in her voice that sounds so familiar you almost stop breathing.
"No matter where you are."
The children seemed satisfied by this answer, a fact that surprises you considering the stubborn gene that was passed on to all three children.
When you stare down at the girl in your arms, an idea strikes you, so you stand, leaving Derek with dishes and O'Malley attempting to make the girls agree on a movie to watch, Yang, having decided she'd done her deed for the day removes a bottle of tequila from a grocery bag, no doubt waiting until Meredith comes over later to offer whatever help she can.
The length of Sadie's cries scare you because unlike Addison, you didn't pay attention during the Neonatal rotation you took years ago and she is the one to reassure you that sustained crying doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong. Her face is blotchy and her face and balled up fists are wet and she starts to cough because of how upset she is.
You walk into the walk-in closet and search through the clothing until you find the dark blue dress, silk, and pull it from it's hanger. She wore it a few days ago to dinner and you were supposed to take it to the dry cleaners but you haven't had the chance and now you're thankful as you place it on the girl, wrapping her in it. You try the wave again and are rewarded when you hold the baby closer and feel her small body stop shaking. Within a minute, her crying has completely silenced and you sway gently.
"Everything will be okay, Sadiebug," Addison's nickname rolls off your tongue with great effort. It just doesn't feel right that you'll never hear her say it again.
Two weeks without Addison and you find yourself in the middle of a store frustrated at a saleswoman. After using the last of it the night before, hearing that her brand of perfume is no longer sold is absolutely frightening. You've learned it's the only way to soothe the crying girl and even without specializing in pediatrics or psychology, you know that something's wrong when the only way to keep your one year old from crying is to spray perfume on a shirt(after mixing it with her vanilla shampoo) and wrapping the cloth around her. You've heard the disapproval from both Callie and Alex, but what are supposed to do aside from letting the small girl cry until she chokes?
"You don't have one bottle?" You push the stroller back and forth gently, Sadie asleep inside cuddled against her mother's favorite purple blouse(the trick only works with her clothing) "Please check again."
"Sir, we stopped carrying that brand, but we did just get in something similar."
"No!" You look around and see a few stunned faces and sigh before reaching down and pulling the blouse closer around the now roused infant. "I'm sorry. Just please. I need it."
"I've already explained, Sir."
"It's the only thing that keeps her quiet." You see the confused glance of the woman behind the counter. "It's what my wife wore." You point to the blue eyed girl that smiles at you, fists grasping the bunched up cloth.
Her face turns sympathetic and she starts to type, looking up a minute later. "A store in Chicago still carries it. I can order it and have it sent here for you."
A year passes and you're amazed that you made it through. You struggled to learn all things 'Addison' and made the mistake of turning lights on before giving Ava a warning one morning, resulting in tears.You learned that Addison does the animal noises "this way" as instructed by Eden when reading Bark, George(a gift from Yang solely because of the title). Sadie eventually became able to function without a grasp on a silky blouse at all times though it stays in her crib for bedtime. You've yet to break her of the habit completely, but you're thankful that the blouse on it's own will do, without her scent now.
After pajamas are put on, hair is taken down, teeth are brushed, and Corduroy is read, you offer kisses to each girl(Eskimo for Eden, Butterfly for Ava) and make sure to leave the door cracked only a little when you leave. You stand for a moment with a hand on the door, and hear as Ava begins to speak , her conversation with Addison consisting of her day at school and the overcooked noodles she had for dinner. She giggles and declares "Mommy, yours are much better but Daddy isn't that bad and his waffles even taste like yours now." You hear both girls say goodnight and express love to each other and their mother as you walk down the hall.
After checking on the toddler and deciding to go shopping for a "big girl bed" tomorrow, since you woke up this morning to the child giggling and standing in front of you, you leave her with a kiss on her soft red curls, and run your hand over the purple blouse tangled with the sage blanket.
Lying in bed at night is always the hardest. It was your time to talk, to listen to each other's day, hear the gossip from the hospital and the latest adorable thing one of the kids did. The bed feels so empty that a few months ago you almost bought a twin size just so you couldn't reach an arm out and feel where her body was supposed to be.
"So I guess Ava told you that I overcooked dinner again. I'm getting better though. It doesn't happen everyday." You laugh, pulling the blanket closer around you. "Ava is doing better, all A's," you proudly inform her. "Today, she turned to me and put her hand on her hip, and I swear, Addi, she looked so much like you that it stole my breath. Meredith's pregnant. She found out yesterday, so I had to listen to Derek's crazy-person rant this morning." You scan your mind for more information you've yet to tell her. "Eden has declared Alex Karev her boyfriend, which Stevens finds adorable." You scoff. "Definitely not happy that she's over the "boys have cooties" thing. Sadie's speaking in full sentences now and climbed out of the crib this morning. I know the terrible two's are about to begin because she has this mischievous smile all the time now, the same one that both Ava and Eden had and we fought over who they got it from." You laugh. "You were right. It's mine. They got the angelic laughing from you." You sigh and close your eyes. "I miss you."
Rolling to the side and running a hand over the soft sheets, you feel a warmness radiate throughout your body and your lips curl into a smile. "I love you, Addi."