After one look at her wounds, the doctors at the burn clinic immediately admitted her and explained that she would need skin grafts and that Angie would be staying for several weeks.
Angie is a tough puppy and she rallied the boys together for a group hug and assured them that everything would be okay. She then sent them off to the elevator and turned to me.
'You have to make it fun for them. I don't want pity and sadness. I'll be fine - you just take care of them.'
I love Angie for so many reasons, but her courage and resolve during the whole ordeal definitely made the list.
'Sure, I'll make it fun. Love you! Get some rest, we'll be back tomorrow.'
We left Angie for her first night at the clinic and my first attempt at fun was to take the boys to Pizza Hut.
It kinda worked for David and Tom, but more in a 'distracting' kind of way. For Peter, you might not be able to see the lump in his throat, but he was on the verge of tears and this is most definitely his 'forced smile' look.
As I put the boys to bed, Peter lost it. Bravery has its limits and Peter had pushed it as far as a nine-year old could take it. As I took him in my arms and tried to comfort him, David and Tom lost it. They look up to Peter as the rock and when the rock starts to crumble, the whole mountain starts to tumble.
I knew I had to take action, but my emotions were also swaying a bit. Luckily, my brain is as solid as squishy gray matter can be and doesn't give a rat's patootie about silly things like feelings. It immediately commanded me to race into the living room and push the sofas to the side. I then shoved our table out of the way and kicked all of the toys to the side of the room. My brain then strutted back to the bedroom of tears.
'All right, boys, listen up!'
For a change, they actually shut up. I was so shocked that for a moment, I lost my train of thought. Luckily, my brain likes trains.
'Okay! I need your help. Everyone grab your pillows.'
The sobbing paused, but it was obvious that they could switch to fast forward at any moment. Peter was the one who broke ranks.
'Why do we need our pillows?'
'Well, thanks for asking. Before I answer, help me with your mattress. Grab that end.'
A confused Peter and I then spent the next ten minutes moving three mattresses to the middle of our living room. The boys then got their pillows, their covers, their stuffed animals - pretty much whatever the hell they wanted to bring. Then I laid down the law.
'Listen! Mama is in the hospital. She's hurt badly and is going to be at the clinic for several weeks. She is being tough, though - we need to be super-mega tough for her. Until she is back, we are the men of the house. As such, we will sleep together. In this room, we are the Men. That means, no crying, no sobbing, no sniveling, no snot, no tears. Mama is being tough - we will be, too. Girly-girl boys can go back to their rooms now. This is now the Manly Man Room. Who's with me?'