When I think about “friendships of the heart” an unlikely character, Chad, comes to my mind. It was my birthday, fourteen years ago on May 2001. We lived in Wichita, Kansas, and my son Troy gave me a gift certificate for a manicure from his friend Chad. We had plans for a summer cruise with Mom and my siblings and their spouses. I decided to be kind to myself, and get my nails looking better for our trip.
I walked into “Extraordinaire,” a crazy, funky decorated beauty salon. I immediately liked it! The grey walls was the perfect background for the bright modern art work that adorned them. It looked more like an art gallery than a salon. Metal art work was hung, and displayed in various nooks and crannies around the shop. The purple, pink and orange streaks in the hair of the beauticians complemented the artistic atmosphere.
I felt right at home with this younger generation in my red, hippie looking dress. Chad greeted me when I walked in the door. He had the body of a muscle builder, looked healthy and was very handsome. It made me wonder why a man like this would choose to be a nail technician.
He immediately picked up my hand and started to work. He did not pressure me at all to get the fancy nails that need frequent replacing. He just worked with what he had, which wasn’t much – thin, cracked, split nails. He explained to me his Mom is a manicurist and when he was laid up from an injury and unable to work, she suggested he try it. He had a Cosmetology license, but likes doing manicures.
We chatted about everything. He was definitely a “clothes horse.” And he liked the “hippie clothes” I was wearing that day. I shared with him I had lost 34 pounds and now get all my clothes at Christine’s Closet, a consignment shop.
Chad was easy to talk to. I poured out my heart to him, I was emotionally fragile because we were going through some difficult times with our oldest son. I talked about the broken dreams we had for him, and shared with Chad the pain and heartache we were going through as we hopelessly watched him make poor decisions. It appeared he was slowly destroying his life. As I continued to talk, Chad listened and gently held my hand and continued to work on my nails.
Every two weeks I faithfully went to see Chad. I looked forward to my appointment and always dressed in “hippie clothes.” I left the salon feeling much happier then when I came in, and had beautiful nails. I started enjoying life more, slowly having less grief and depression. To add more joy to my day, my new ritual after my Saturday afternoon manicure was to head to what I call a “grungy old bar” John Barleycorn’s. Our youngest son Todd had a part time job bartending, and business was slow on Saturday afternoons. I enjoyed sitting at the bar and drinking raspberry tea and visiting with Todd until he started to get busy.
As my bi-monthly sessions continued with Chad, I got acquainted with his folks when they were in the salon talking to Chad. I liked Chad and honestly wanted to know how he was doing. Since he was a friend of Troy’s, I was a little leery about their friendship and lifestyle. He shared he was trying to get off parole, keep straight and make something of his life. I listened to him, as he continued to hold my hand and work on my nails. I reminded him every time I saw him, that I was praying for him. Chad explained he had been involved in the Prison Ministry. He had a strong Faith, and shared, “The Kingdom of God is for real and he had accepted God into his life and felt the Grace of the Heavenly Father.” Chad had written letters to Troy, encouraging him to study the Bible, give his life to the Lord and not use drugs! I finally realized Chad was not just a manicurist, he had become my therapist, and my friend.
It was time for our cruise and my hands were beautiful! When we returned from our cruise, we were awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. Troy was crying, Chad had died from a drug overdose. I cried too and grieved over the loss of Chad. At his Memorial Service I was amazed at the over flowing of people in the chapel. He had touched so many lives and was loved by many. In spite of the grief his parents were going through, they reached out to me that day, and told me how much Chad liked me. With tears in my eyes, I shared from the bottom of my heart that it was mutual admiration.
I know Satan tried hard to destroy Chad with his temptation to drugs. But in my heart I know that “God won.” During Pastor Hoover’s message, he encouraged those attending to accept Christ into their lives. He also talked to each person as they left. That is exactly what Chad would have wanted him to do. I believe that because of his death, the door was open to numerous friends to invite Christ into their lives.
For a long time after his death, I had trouble sleeping, Chad was in my heart and in my mind. I would awaken having seen Chad in my dreams. He was holding hands with God now, and giving manicures to the Angels. Chad touched my life, and his friendship touched my heart. I miss holding hands with Chad!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I grieved so for the death of Chad, for the heartache and loss his parents and friends must feel. It seems like such a meaningless death, but Father I know in Your eyes there is no meaningless suffering. That You can make good out of every tragedy on earth. That because of his death, many people that knew Chad reevaluated their lives and were lead to You. That is what Chad would have wanted. Thank you father, for the time I spent holding hands with Chad. Amen
Prayer Focus: For all those that have addictions. May they come to their senses, and the right friends come into their lives so they will be lead back home to You.
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